After over 80 years as an unincorported community, the City of Burke was incorporated in 1966.
Burke School was the polling place for all elections--local, state and national--for many years. The long term election judge for the Democratic Primary, the only one that mattered at the time, was Corbett Conner. There were not voting booths, and voters would go into an empty classroom as use a desk to mark their ballots. The Murrahs always voted, and the author recalls accompanying his father and watching as he voted. At the end of the election day, Corb would head to Lufkin with the vote totals, and everone else would race home and turn their radios to KTRE in Lufkin to hear Hank Huggins or Richman Lewin report the results in a remote broadcast from the County Clerk's office. There was an informal race among the small voting precincts to see which could report its results first. Box 3 from Burke was always one of the first to report.
The general election was held in the auditorium since it was always on a school day. It is the author's recollection that the primaries were always on a Saturday. Voters would find an unoccupied spot in the auditorium and use the flat top of a bench back for a writing surface.
The author's mother, Gertrude Murrah, worked in the Democratic primary for many years. She usually worked at the ballot table signing in voters. The counting was done by other workers in a closed classroom.
Like the rest of the State, Burke was a heavily Democratic area from the Civil War until perhaps the 1980's. There was no Republican Primary in Angelina County since there was no organized Republican Party, which made the Democratic Primary election the main election and rendered the November general election a formality for state and local offices. That did not mean that there were no, or at least suspected, Republicans in Burke. At the Democratic Primary some voters would object to having DEMOCRAT stamped on their voter registration receipt, or in the early days, poll tax receipt. Many staunch Democrats thought that was a clue that the voters were really Republicans. That has likely all changed with the political transformations that came about with the Reagan revolution, and the roles of Democrats and Republicans have been reversed in Texas, even in Angelina County.
Until they were eliminated by federal civil rights laws, everyone in Texas had to pay a poll tax in order to vote, and the payment was due many months before the election. So you had not only to have the money for the poll tax but also enough interest in voting to plan well ahead. At the polling place each voter had to present their poll tax receipt in order to vote.
Burke elections had a dramatic impact on the author. Watching his mother work in the elections and observing the deliberateness with which his father marked his ballot sparked a lifelong interest in politics. It was probably the reason the author attended law school. Fortunately the interest in politics did not result a run for political office. The author's father did run for Burke School Board one year, and he received three votes. We knew where two of the votes came from, leaving us to conclude that there was one other well-informed voter that year.