I strive to vote in every election. Every one.
Until I became a poll worker, I never realized how essential their role in the voting process is. I began my service as a poll worker in 2012 for the city of Milwaukee. Because I speak Spanish, I was a welcome addition. This is because the Voting Rights Act requires Milwaukee to provide language assistance. Many people throughout Wisconsin need language help or other forms of assistance at the polls. If you speak a second language, that is a real plus. But regardless of your ability to speak a second language, more lawyers are needed to work the polls.
After I signed up to become a poll worker, I went through a half-day training course. It was easy to understand what I was supposed to do – at least I thought so. There are four basic jobs a poll worker can do: greeter, receiver, registrar, or machine attendant. I quickly realized how technical the electoral process can be. There are rules and procedures for just about everything. Being a lawyer helps because some of the election process laws and procedures are more complicated than you might think.
I have served mostly as a registrar at the same polling place on the south side of the city for eight years. Because Wisconsin allows for same-day voter registration, we will see voters who come in to register because they have moved since the last election or they have been removed from the voter rolls due to inactivity. Registering them can take a little time but it is worthwhile. It feels good to register people. My favorite person to register is the first-time young voter.
Looking back, my time as a poll worker has been personally satisfying. The work is a welcome change of pace three to four days (half or full day) per year that provides me an opportunity to contribute to my community. My fellow workers, a rather diverse bunch from all walks of life, are a pleasure to work with. I have found them to be conscientious and committed to the importance of voting and its value to the democratic process. And yes, we will get the occasional “thanks for your service” compliment from voters.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a loss of poll workers and therefore has created a shortage for November in some areas of the state. Without sufficient poll workers, I worry whether the ability to exercise our essential right to vote will be hampered. I urge my fellow bar members to consider working as a poll worker in November. Who knows? You might end up becoming a habitual poll worker … like me.
Wisconsin needs pool workers for election day. Wisconsin municipalities typically need approximately 30,000 poll workers. Clerks have experienced shortages at elections in April, May, and August due to COVID-19. To sign up, contact your municipal clerk’s office or visit the MyVote Wisconsin website, https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/PollWorker.
Meet Our Contributors
What was your funniest or oddest experience in a legal context?
As a relatively new lawyer, I appeared in Milwaukee County misdemeanor court for a routine 8:30 a.m. pretrial conference. I expected to be in and out that morning. To my surprise, the judge called a case that was scheduled for a bench trial and proceeded to hold the trial while 10 or so lawyers like myself had no other choice but to sit through the trial.
The trial was full of drama. You had the recanting witness who was impeached by the assistant district attorney, an allegation by the defense attorney after the morning break that the recanting witness had been threatened or intimidated by police with arrest in the hallway, and the angry judge demanding that a police supervisor appear in his courtroom within one hour. Real made-for-TV stuff.
Andrew J. Chevrez, Attorney Andrew J. Chevrez, West Allis.
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