LeAnn White | Lac du Flambeau, WI
I am a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and I am a United States citizen. That means I vote in my tribal elections as well as Lac du Flambeau town elections, Vilas County elections, Wisconsin State elections, U.S. Congressional elections, and Presidential elections. Voting is important to me.
The Lac du Flambeau reservation is located inside Vilas County. The town of Lac du Flambeau lies within the reservation boundaries. There are two governments: The Lac du Flambeau Tribe and the Town of Lac du Flambeau. It is a unique structure to say the least. The reservation resembles a checkerboard, a term used after the Allotment Act where tribal land was purchased at very low prices by non-Natives.
I began as an election inspector, I learned the basic steps by working with an experienced inspector. During every election I would observe the other inspectors, the chief inspector and the voter registration table. I was interested in learning more about the chief inspector role. It seemed easy enough. I didn’t hesitate to find the training information. I was excited to learn more and take on a bigger role, so I took the training in 2018 and became the Chief Inspector for the Town of Lac du Flambeau this past April. I work with the town clerk to oversee the entire Election Day process. I want to ensure that the election is open, fair and safe for everyone. We need to work as a team.
Each polling place is set up different, it depends on the layout of the space. In my polling location we have tables for voter registration, voter check in, receiving ballots, voting booths and the ballot machine.
Being a poll worker is important to me because I want Lac du Flambeau tribal members to see a friendly face when they come to vote. They are coming into a space that has not always been welcoming. They did not have the right to vote until 1948. It makes me feel good to see Lac du Flambeau Tribal members coming to vote and also registering to vote.
I want everyone that comes to our polling location to feel comfortable and at ease. If I know their name, I greet them by name. I know I would feel more comfortable entering a space and being greeted by name. The building seems intimidating and when you walk inside it’s quiet. That is intimidating too.Voting is important because it is part of an entire system that affects us all. I’m especially happy to see new voters, like the 18-year olds.
One of my most memorable times as a poll worker was during the recent 2020 spring election held in April. There were five tribal members working that day. I don’t think there were ever that many tribal members working an election at the Town Hall in Lac du Flambeau. It really made me feel good to work with my fellow tribal members.
LeAnn’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. LeAnn’s story was produced by Carol Amour.
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.