Local Elections Matter

I am sending you a little last-minute reminder if you have not already voted early or voted by mail, Tuesday, April 5, is your day to get out there and vote. Local elections are so important. Often our local elections are won by a small margin. Local elections can affect us more so than a larger race, such as a presidential election.

Something equally important I want to share with you is trusting in our elections. Anyone who has worked the polls before knows that people of all political persuasions participate as election workers. Each of Wisconsin’s 1,850 municipalities has a clerk who has been trained to administer elections. Some larger municipalities have deputy clerks, who are also trained.  Your local clerk taps the local parties ensuring there is an equal number from both side of the aisle helping. Each polling place has multiple election workers who must attend a training at least once every 2 years. Please remember, clerks and poll workers are our friends and neighbors who step up to help with a vital civic process.

Several years ago, when there were some recall elections in the state, a group of us who had formed a “Think Tank” and talked with a polling place where there was a recall election so we could observe. This election happened to be a recall election for Wisconsin District 12 Senator Jim Holperin. As a citizen you do have the right to be present and observe the election workers at the end of election day as they go through their processes. I can tell you; they were very professional and explained everything they did with great detail. There was nothing to hide. It was a rewarding experience, and one I will never forget, learning what happens to your vote after it is cast.

Our “Think Tank,” abiding by all rules, also set up an exit polling at this voting place. To do this, you must be set up at the exit, after people vote. Exit polls are anonymous, and are conducted throughout the entire day, with no gaps that could cause bias. We asked voters to participate in a direct question or two that would indicate their leanings. Many people were wary to stop by and yet many did engage. We had a group of us who specifically counted as people came out, so we had that number to compare with how many participated in our poll. This way we would have a percentage to work with. We had a set “Ballot Box” that could not be opened or tampered with throughout the day. That evening we got together at a local restaurant with a reporter from a local newspaper and opened the box. This was an amazing experience, and we did find our results were spot-on with the election results!

The most important thing we can do as citizens is become involved and learn. I was an amazing adventure in learning for me. Stop spreading the rhetoric. Get involved, it is rewarding. Above all, get out and vote!