HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The polling place may be a quiet place, but one family’s presence there is loud.
For 30 years, Gerald Ballen has volunteered his time as a poll worker each election day at Myrtle Beach’s Mary C. Canty Recreation Center. Tuesday was no different.
“Long, long ago my mom used to be the clerk at this precinct. So I started off helping her and I just never left,” Ballen said.
It’s no coincidence his family name Ballen is just two letters different than ‘ballot.’ It seems the family was meant to preach the importance of voting.
“Voting was important enough to die for. It had to be important enough for me to keep it going,” Ballen said. “I always wanted to do something. I always knew I wouldn’t be president or governor or anything like that. But I wanted to do something in my own, small little way to make a difference,”
His wife, daughter, son and longtime friend Betty Chestnut volunteer with him. Ballen has volunteered with his wife for almost a decade, volunteered with Chestnut for 20 years and has helped people to the polls himself for 30.
He said he knows it’s our right to vote, and seeing people flow into the polls puts a smile on his face.
“My daughter, she’s been coming with me since she was 5 years old,” Ballen said.
His daughter, Tiffany Ballen-Glover, said she remembers coming to the polls with him years ago and that her dad makes her proud.
“Very proud, very proud. I couldn’t be prouder of any guy. He is the best. My father is an excellent man,” Ballen-Glover said while sitting between her mother and cousin at voter check-in Tuesday.
Ballen described election day as “Christmas morning” for him.
“I get up at like 4 o’clock in the morning because I don’t want to be late. I want to have this stuff set up and ready for when the first person walks in the door," he said. "If you make me late, it hurts my heart!”
So if you're questioning why your vote matters, Ballen has words for you.
“They had an election in Loris where the winner won by one vote. O-N-E one vote!” he exclaimed.
Someone like Gerald Ballen is counting on you to vote, no matter who it’s for. The family only asks one thing - if you don’t vote, don’t complain!