The first year Polvadera’s Lillie Apodaca worked as a Socorro county election official, Rocky Marciano was the new world heavyweight champion, Didio “Bernado” Salas was running for County Superintendent of Schools, and Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president.
That was in 1952, and Apodaca hasn’t missed an Election Day in 70 years, and she was hard at work on Nov. 8 at the new Polvadera fire station as a steady trickle of voters came by to cast their ballots.
It was an innocent enough start for Apodaca, who said yes when she was 19 years old and was asked if she would be interested in working as an election official.
“They just asked me, and I accepted, and I’ve been doing it since then,” Apodaca said.
Over the years, Apodaca has served in all election worker positions, including time as the presiding judge.
“I have done it all to going and getting the boxes at night and getting all the ballots ready for voters,” Apodaca said.
As time has passed, Apodaca’s “civic duty” has turned into a chance to see who is voting and socialize with her neighbors.
Apodaca may have retired from her 30-year career at the Midway school, where she worked as a secretary and “Jackie of all trades,” but she never thought about stopping her work as an election official.
“It’s something I enjoy doing and knowing that things are being done fairly is very important to me,” Apodaca said.
While she’s not one to play sides in politics, Apodaca admits she was disappointed in how the governor’s candidates spoke poorly of their opponents and didn’t present their platforms to the voters.
“I think they’re attacking each other, and that’s very bad. It’s not nice to attack, you know, to say bad things about other people. The voters are the ones who are missing out when that happens,” she said.
Apodaca enjoys traveling when she has the opportunity, and she has family in New Mexico and Texas that she holds dear.
Now that she’s about to celebrate her 90th year, Apodaca has started entertaining the idea of retiring as an election worker. She also laughs when she talks about the county having her number and that her answer will be “yes” when her phone rings.
Apodaca admits she stays away from the now essential computers. Still, she remains a wealth of information and a source of information for her coworkers like Lucy Griego and Wendy Perkins.
Griego has worked as an election official for 40 years.
“We get here in the morning, we get everything set up, and then there are times that we’re busy, and then we just like, now I know we have some time, and we can relax, take it easy talk, and have a good time,” Griego said. “I like it for the socialization, too.”
Getting to know other people is also what Perkins enjoys about working with Apodaca.
“I’ve been an election worker since I moved here,” Perkins said.
She said she had worked elections in five different states, and she likes being able to get in touch with voters.