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Kershaw County voter registration director retires

Posted: July 10, 2014 5:43 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2014 5:00 a.m.

After nearly nine years as a Kershaw County employee, Rosalind Watson, Kershaw County’s director of voter registration is retiring today. Born in New York City, Watson said her parents were originally from Camden. She grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and attended Buffalo State Teachers College. After deciding teaching was not her true calling, she went to work for IBM as a systems engineer, trainer, engineering manager and software manager. In addition to working in Buffalo, her 25-year career with IBM took her to Philadelphia; Reading, Penn., Dallas; and Maryland.

“Maryland is where I retired in 1995,” Watson said.

She then worked in Maryland with one of her brothers in his entertainment and amusement business, installing jukeboxes, wiring speakers and handling accounting for the business. She was also a caregiver for other family members during that time. She moved to Camden in 1996. The next year, Watson went to work at North Central High School, using her IBM experience in the school’s computer lab for five years.

“They couldn’t update the software and the kids were beginning to memorize the answers and I didn’t feel the computer lab was being successful with what it was supposed to do,” she said.

Watson started working for the county in 2005, another job that took advantage of her experience with computers.

“They were going from the card punch voting system to the Ivatronix and the board realized they needed someone with a computer background. So, Ruby Minton knew me from North Central and she encouraged me to take the job,” Watson said. “There was a lot of cleaning up to do when I first came on.”

Watson said she and her staff are most visible on election days, but it definitely is a full-time job.

“We have all the machines we have to make certain they get charged and checked out and calibrated every so often. We could have all of this done, but it would cost the county anywhere from $16,000 to $20,000. Since I’m familiar with that kind of work I just do it myself. We have 169 voting machines, plus our ballot readers,” she said. “We keep addresses. People are constantly moving. Our database has to be maintained forever. When people are deceased we have to move them out of the active files. Those who are convicted, we have to keep a record of that and the system has to be updated.”

Watson said she is active in her church, St. John Missionary Baptist, and became an ordained minister this year. She is also the church clerk. Watson said short-term plans are to attend a special church conference and travel. She has been a widow since January 2006. She has three children, 11 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Watson said she plans to devote her time and effort to community youth groups.

“I still work with children. I keep telling people, at 73 it’s time to give up my youth group. I’m the youth adviser for the NAACP group here and I work on the state board in Columbia,” she said. “I’m always taking youths to a conference or having something. We’ve been doing street cleaning for the last six years.”

Watson said her successor will be John Caughman, who was hired by Kershaw County in June after working in the voter registration office in neighboring Lee County.

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