Douglas Co. man hasn’t missed working an election in 62 years at the polls

Through 15 presidential elections and 62 years, the 84-year-old has counted more ballots than he can recall.
We introduce to you a man who has helped count ballots in Douglas County for more than six decades.
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - George Reed was a 21-year-old meter reader at M.U.D. back in 1960 when he took a day’s vacation to earn a little extra dough working at the Douglas County elections.

He liked it so much that he hasn’t missed an election since. Every election since 1960 he has showed up to help, whoever the commissioner and wherever they were counting votes at the time.

“We came in at two in the afternoon, we counted the ballots at the election place, and the ballots were all extra sizes, shapes, lengths,” Reed said. “Cheap paper, toilet paper would probably have been better, but we worked with it.”

Through 15 presidential elections and 62 years, 84-year-old George Reed has counted more ballots than he can recall.

“When I was in the service, I would come back and I would always plan [election week] for my leave time,” Reed said. “The election commission had no problem with that, they just wanted me here.”

As his county’s population has grown from over 300,000 in 1960 to nearly 600,000 today, George says one of the biggest improvements he’s seen is voting access for the disabled so that every person has their vote counted.

“When I first started there was nothing there for people who were challenged,” he said. “They had to go up steps, if they were in wheelchairs they just didn’t make it. I’m glad that’s something they’ve reconciled.”

“Douglas County gets a gold star for that one, they make sure that any place you have to go vote, voters will be able to get in and vote.”

Poll worker Taylor Hogan of Omaha is working her first election. She’s been inspired over the years watching her grandparents Maxine and Mike, both in their 70s, work elections like George. Working the polls 18 times themselves, they’ve inspired her generation to do their part.

“Getting involved and being out in the community, doing things that help people, and helping people use their voice,” she said. “Knowing that they liked it and got to be involved in the process, that’s why I kind of wanted to work here.”

And now that she’s working for elections, maybe she can hang in there as long as George. She’d be in her late 80s by then.

“Yeah, I hope so, I would like to,” she laughed. “It is important, and that’s why I’ll work here as long as they let me.”

Despite all the changes George has seen in the six decades he’s been working the Douglas County polls, he said one thing has remained the same. They’re working to make sure every ballot counts.

“I would say Douglas County appreciates the election system they have,” he said. “It is run good, it is run straight, and it’s probably the most honest way of doing things that I know of.”