Union County poll worker, 91, retiring after 7 decades

Betty Eyler, inspector of elections, Lewis Township, Union County, during Tuesday’s general election. Eyler is retiring after working the polls for seven decades, almost entirely in the elected inspector position.

It was the spring of 1951 when Betty Eyler found herself living briefly in Panama where her husband, the late Owen Eyler, was deployed to help train U.S. Army Reserves for the Korean War.

That was the last time she missed an election.

“I was back in time to do the fall,” said Eyler, who turns 92 in January.

Eyler worked the polls every year since she turned 21, first briefly as a poll watcher for her political party and for more than six decades as inspector of elections in Lewis Township, Union County, which is an elected position.

Tuesday’s general election was Eyler’s last as an elected official. She’s retiring.

“I have a good board. They’re all great people. We work great together. You’ve got to have teamwork to do it. To my knowledge, I don’t think we ever had a mistake,” Eyler said from inside the polling station at the Lewis Township Municipal Building.

Eyler worked 47 years at what was then the Groover and Lobos Law Firm in Mifflinburg. She still works, and not just at elections. She’s a weekend tasting hostess for the Juniata Valley Winery at The Point Barn in Danville.

“She keeps busy mowing her own grass and doing her gardening,” said her niece, Linda Buttorff. “She’s a very kind soul, loving. She’s just one of those people you want to be around.”

Eyler found herself around elections because of her father, the late George A. Englehart. He tabbed her to be a poll watcher for the first two to three years, she recalled. In time, he encouraged her to seek election herself and she obliged.

Englehart was a jury commissioner in Union County when Eyler began working elections. When he died in 1972, her mother, the late Beatrice L. Englehart, was appointed to the role and was elected to the position for many more terms.

The shift to digital voting was the biggest change in Eyler’s 70 years at the polls, she said.

“I’m not up on electronics,” Eyler said with a smile. “We all sat around like we do now. It was a paper ballot. Somebody yelled the name of whoever got the vote. We’d put it on a sheet of paper and number it one, two, three, four, five. That’s how we tallied the votes.”

Marge Schmader is judge of elections in Lewis Township. She can’t recall how many terms she’s served; guessing she’s been in the role up to 20 years. This is her final election on the board, too.

Schmader said she began as a volunteer and eventually sought election to the role of judge of elections. She’s worked with Eyler the whole time.

“She’s just so reliable. She never says no. She does all my paperwork for me. We enjoy having her,” Schmader said.

“I enjoyed it. You got to see everybody that came to vote. Everybody knew everybody. You just came in, did your job,” Eyler said.

Trending Video