Leila Schuman | Lac du Flambeau, WI
So, for the election in April, they asked the younger generation to help. I became a poll worker through another tribal member in our community who came to me and said, “Hey, if you’ve got nothing going on, they’re looking for help.”
It was pretty easy. The Chief inspector just told me what to do—she ran all the trainings. The Chief inspector was the one to check people in, verify their license, or check their ID with their name and address. Once they are checked in, I just handed the ballot to the voter.
I like that on Election Day, there’s always a conversation going on with the people that walk in. I got compliments for being there because of Covid. Voters thanked me for risking being there, especially with me being pregnant. For the August election I was the cleaner, so I wore a mask and gloves and I wiped down the tables. As I walked around sanitizing everything, I directed people to the booths. I got to talk with a lot of people.
Voting is so important. You’re having that voice. It’s the start of getting your voice out there. What’s the point of complaining about things you don’t like, if you’re not going to make your statement by voting? So, it’s important to make sure that your vote counts and that you understand who you’re voting for and not just going by people saying this or that. Because news nowadays can be crazy. Your vote counts towards making the future so you need to find out what the true stories are.
I have a thirteen-year-old, a six-year-old, a three-year-old, and one coming in November. I have a busy life. It’s never a dull moment. I actually just picked up my keys to open a nail shop up here. So, I’m busy, but it’s important to me to make time to work at the polls. I’m a fairly new poll worker, but I’d like to keep doing it.
Recently a couple came in supporting who they were voting for on their masks. It never dawned on me before that you can’t do that. But the poll inspector said, “you can’t have that. You need to remove it or turn it inside out.” That was the funniest thing, that they had the guts to come in here like that… there’s no election advertising allowed inside a polling place!
When I worked the polls, I heard a lot of “thank you for being here.” So, it shows how important it is to have the polls open. A lot of people would rather come in person than do an absentee ballot which I totally understand. I am the same way too. I appreciate hearing the thanks because it’s a long day. We have to be there by 6:30 in the morning. and then we leave about quarter after eight. We’re tired when we’re done.
I just hope everybody gets out to vote.
Leila’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. Leila’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.