SALEM — Election Day in this city is a family affair. Go to any polling place today and you’re bound to find several members of the same family working the polls.
And no polling place is more family-friendly than Ward 4, Precinct 2. To most, it is the gymnasium at the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School. To some, however, it is Camp Cunningham.
Joanne Cunningham, 81, the family matriarch, is the warden in 4-2, which means she runs the show. She’s been working the polls in this precinct for nearly two decades.
Catie Cunningham-Dee, her daughter, is the clerk, or second-in-command.
Making his debut as a poll inspector at 4-2, checking off registered voters as they enter and exit, is Robert Dee, 19, Joanne’s grandson and Catie’s son.
That’s three Cunninghams working one polling place.
But this election is even more special.
Today is Catie Cunningham-Dee’s 57th birthday. “I told them they have to be extra nice to me (today),” she said.
Catie’s other son, JD, 18, a senior at Salem High, will be voting for the first time today. And, of course, he will vote at Ward 4, Precinct 2.
In past years, it has been even more of a Cunningham family reunion. Tom and Robbie Cunningham, both police officers and Joanne’s sons, have worked details at 4-2.
The Cunninghams would not miss this day for anything. Like many poll workers, they love Election Day.
“It’s exciting,” said Catie. “You get to see everybody. There are people I only get to see a couple of times a year, and one of those times is on Election Day. And I get to work with my mom.”
“It’s a long day, (but) it’s a wonderful day,” said Joanne, who started when votes were counted by hand and works now with computerized ballot machines. “I wish I could do it once a week.”