Jubie Simonson | Waldwick, WI
I was first a poll worker in the late 1970’s, I lived in Darlington and my mom was a poll worker. There must have been a poll worker shortage one time and she asked if I would do it. I enjoyed being a poll worker, it was fun. I moved to Waldwick and waited until I was retired to become a poll worker again. My family has always been involved in civic duty. Initially I hadn’t looked at being a poll worker as carrying on that responsibility, but it is. Now I am the chief inspector for our township, which means I am responsible for the compliance and integrity of voting on election day.
We only have one voting location, with two different wards. As the chief inspector I make sure that election procedures are followed as well as procedures for absentee ballots. Municipal clerks are responsible for distributing and collecting absentee ballots using USPS. In 2016 I saw how well poll workers and municipal clerks do. After the election, Jill Stein from the Green Party filed for a recount and I observed the recount. We went through the actual votes, not just the voter tally on the machine. Every single tape from the machine was checked and every single ballot was recounted. The numbers lined up perfectly. This gave me a great deal of confidence in the integrity of the voting machines.
Because we are such a small township, between all the poll workers, we know everybody by name who comes in to vote. But, even if we are related to a voter, we need to ask for everyone’s ID. On occasion someone forgets to bring their ID and we send them home to get it. When this happens, people get upset with us, because we do know who there are. But that is the law. We also have some people that would stay all day if we’d let them. Perhaps they may be lonely and come in to visit and vote and get their cookie. We may also be a connection with the outside world. Every four years, there’s a cookie baking competition among the spouses of presidential candidates. Back in 2000, Tipper Gore offered a molasses cookie and Laurie Bush won with a blend of chocolate chip, oatmeal, coconut, nut cookie. I made them and they are so good. I always make at least three cookie options for the election. I really love when we have our 18-year-old first time voters. Kids frequently ask us to take a picture of them getting their ballot or getting their “I Voted” sticker. It warms my heart to know that young people are that excited, that voting feels that momentous. And they like cookies too.
Although we only have about 300 registered voters in the whole township, in 2016 we had nearly 90% of those voters’ vote. I was proud to live in such an engaged township. I don’t keep track of voting percentages for other townships, but I’m always encouraging our township to say, “Hey, we had 3% more turnout than X township.” Just to have fun, keep people on their toes, and send the message that voting is important. I am a firm believer that an informed, involved electorate is the key to democracy. I just firmly believe that I don’t have to like your politics, but it is important to me that you vote.
Jubie’s story is part of Love Wisconsin’s Poll Worker series. Through this series we want to draw back the curtain on who makes our elections possible and introduce you to a few of the unsung heroes of the democratic process.
What exactly does a Poll Worker do? Poll Workers facilitate the right to vote and maintain order at the polls. They ensure that our elections are open, fair, impartial, and trusted. The Wisconsin Elections and Ethics Commission has a list of Frequently Asked Questions to describe the duties and qualifications to be a Poll Worker.
Regular people from neighborhoods around the state volunteer to be Poll Workers. If you are interested in being a Poll Worker you sign up through your municipal clerk. Here is a list and contact information for Wisconsin’s municipal clerks.