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Steve Mays, 58, has been a resident of Elizabethtown most of his life and looks forward to doing his civic duty each Election Day.
His primary job since 1984 has been with Kentucky Radiation Control. Mays checks X-ray equipment and performs radiation inspections. He also checks to make sure operators are protected, use good radiation safety practices and keep patient exposure at a minimum.
He is responsible for the central region that covers areas from Louisville to Scottsville and Tompkinsville. He works out of his home office and travels to check the equipment in hospitals, medical facilities, doctor’s offices, veterinary offices and industrial facilities.
Seasonally he prepares tax returns H&R Block in Radcliff.
But for more than 20 years, he has gotten up at 4:30 a.m. each Election Day to work as an election officer at the polls.
“The Hardin County Clerk’s Office must have gotten desperate for election poll officers,” he joked.
When he wakes up so early every Election Day, he often asks himself, “Why am I doing this?”
Because he works the polling place he lives in, the City Park precinct, he gets the chance to interact with the people in his neighborhood. It’s one of the perks of the day, he said.
Working at the same precinct for so many years, he’s gotten used to some familiar voting routines such as being there when the polls open.
It’s the same people every year. This year, Mays is hoping to see many new faces.
There is more excitement about this election than in the past and a possible high turnout, Mays said.
He’s been disappointed in the past when the voter turnout has been so low.
“It makes my day go by much faster when it is a busy election,” he said. “When you’re sitting there watching paint dry, waiting for voters in a 10 percent turnout it’s a long, long day.”
More people need to be interested in voting because everyone has a voice, especially in a tight race, Mays said.
“You can’t really complain if you don’t vote,” he said.
Most of the time, everything runs smoothly because the election officers are trained well, Mays said.
But sometimes you can’t get into the building when you want to set up the machines or a machine doesn’t work properly, Mays said. Both of those problems are usually fixed quickly.
Other times, someone needs help knowing how to use a machine. Some voters have a fear of the machines because they don’t know the process, Mays said, but he’s there to answer questions and help them know how to use the machines without influencing their vote.
First-time voters usually are very excited and take their vote very seriously because they remember how it feels to not have the ability to vote, Mays said.
Others think about the soldiers who gave their lives to protect the right to vote and cast their vote with great responsibility, he said.
Unfortunately, others just do it out of routine and are apathetic to the process, he said.
But he enjoys what he does on Election Day and interacting with neighbors and friends.
“It gives me a sense of civic duty and doing something for my community,” he said.
The downside is that it is a very long day. After waking up so early, he’s at the polls all day. Many times he goes straight to bed when he gets home. For him, knowing the election results can wait until morning.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting to know Steve Mays:
Hobbies: His daughter started playing golf in high school and he picked it up at the same time. He also enjoys time at the pool and is in an investment club called the Bearded Ladies Investment Club.
Music: Mays grew up in 1970s, so he likes the oldies.
Movies: He loves sci-fi, specifically “Star Trek.”
Pets: A dog named Maysie
Family: Wife, Patti; one daughter, two stepchildren and four stepgrandchildren.
Sports: University of Louisville