TAVARES – Lake County Supervisor of Elections Emogene Stegall, the state’s longest serving supervisor of elections, was recently honored for more than 50 years of service.
The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections presented Stegall with a plaque during the 2014 Annual Conference in Destin, Florida. Stegall is in her 11th term and worked in elections for 14 years before taking public office.
Her first day on the job was May 1, 1958. “We had paper ballots, very few voting machines – they were 900 pound Shoup machines,” Stegall recalled. Ballots were counted manually, with spotters watching the people tallying up votes in sets of five, then organizing them into neat stacks of 25.
Forget about instant results. It took days to determine the outcome of an election, but that didn’t take away from the excitement.
“It’s like Christmas morning when you’re a kid,” she said of Election Day.
In the 1950s, voting requirements were also far more stringent. Citizens had to be 21 years old, a Florida resident for one year and a Lake County resident for six months.
In 1964, everything changed.
“Our registration really grew with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act,” Stegall said. “We have really come a long way. It’s much easier now to register and vote.”
Today, more than 200,000 people are registered to vote in Lake County with 103 available polling locations.
“There is something different every day,” Stegall said of her job. “It’s kind of a challenge, and that’s why I like it.”
For more information on the Lake County Supervisor of Elections office, call 352-343-9734 or visit http://elections.lakecountyfl.gov.