The year was 1980. Ronald Reagan was running for President of the United States of America. It was then that Carrie and Edwin Cole began their 36 years of dedicated community service as Officers of Election in Montgomery County, Va.
Over the years, Carrie Cole has worked 53 general, special, and primary elections at Precinct D-4, located in Pilot, Va., at the Abundant Life Fellowship Church.
In 2016, at the most recent general presidential election, the Coles helped facilitate 766 votes of the 1,002 registered voters in the district. Since 1997, the Montgomery County Voter Registration Office has record of 11,243 votes recorded from 33 general, special, and primary elections at Precinct D-4 in Pilot, Va.
The days are long, some beginning at 5 a.m., and not ending until 11 p.m. However, that did not deter the Mr. and Mrs. Cole from their work election after election and year after year.
"Pilot is a great place and it’s important that we have a precinct there so the locals to come and cast their votes. And, it's a great time to catch up on the local community gossip and learn what all is going on in the area," Mrs. Cole stated with a gleam in her eye.
In 1983, Mrs. Cole was appointed Assistant Chief for the Pilot, Va., polling place. In 1999, she was appointed Chief for the Elections. In 2012, she stepped down and remained involved as an Officer of Elections.
Through rain, snow, sleet and even blackouts, the Coles have remained dedicated to facilitating this important civic duty. "One year, we broke out the flashlights when the power went out at the church so that voters could continue to cast their paper ballots," stated Mrs. Cole.
It wasn't until 2004 that Mr. and Mrs. Cole began working together at the D-4 Precinct in Pilot, Va. Until then, Mr. Cole worked several precincts outside of Pilot due to a previously existing rule that forbade family members from working together. Prior to 2004, Mr. Cole worked at several other precincts outside of Pilot, Va., to include Precinct B-2 at the Christiansburg Church of the Brethren and Precinct D-3 at the Bethel Elementary School.
On February 13, 2017, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors recognized Mr. and Mrs. Cole with a Resolution of Recognition. The plaque with the Board’s Resolution of Recognition was presented to the Mr. and Mrs. Cole on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the Montgomery County Government Center.
"This is the kind of dedication and service that we need in order to support our community and provide convenient polling areas so citizens can exercise their right to vote," said Connie Viar, General Registrar and Director of Elections. "We’re thankful for the many years of service Carrie and Edwin have given to Montgomery County," Viar added.
To learn how to get involved and become an Officer of Election at one of Montgomery County’s 25 voting precincts, visit the Voter Registration website.
Photo caption: Pictured from left to right are Director of Elections and General Registrar, Connie Viar; Electoral Board Member, John Sills; Electoral Board Secretary, Carroll Williams; Mrs. Connie Cole; Mr. Edwin Cole; and Marshall ‘Dean’ Dowdy, the Electoral Board Chairman.