Student poll workers share their perspectives on the midterm elections


Photo taken by Isabel Piarulli.

Isabel Piarulli, Student Government Reporter

The 2022 midterm elections were held this past Tuesday, Nov. 8, and the election results in Wisconsin have been called. According to the Associated Press, Republican Senator Ron Johnson has been reelected, defeating Democratic candidate Mandela Barnes by just one percentage point. In another reelection, Democrat Tony Evers defeated Republican Tim Michels to serve his second term as Governor.

La Crosse is located in district 3, the only district where an incumbent did not win. Republican representative Derrick Van Orden won against Democratic candidate Brad Pfaff in another close race. Determining election results is a product of diligence and hard work from many people, including those students who volunteered their time at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse polling location.

The Racquet Press spoke to four UWL students that spent last Tuesday fulfilling various tasks as poll workers.

Mai-Linh Morgan – Poll Worker

UWL sophomore and Asian Student Organization (ASO) Co-Chair Mai-Linh Morgan volunteered as a poll worker at the UWL Student Union polling location. She heard about working in the midterm elections from the Chief Election Officer when she was voting last year. This election was Morgan’s fourth time working the polls. Her first time was the presidential election in 2020. “I was interested in working it because it was 2 weeks before my 18th birthday, so I couldn’t vote so I figured why not.”

Much like many of the other poll workers, Morgan had multiple tasks throughout the day. She started working with supplementals and giving out voter numbers. “Supplementals is how each new registration is added to the poll book for the next election,” said Morgan. “This includes anyone that hasn’t voted before or if they changed their name, or if they changed their address which is the most common because of campus housing.” In the second part of the day, Morgan helped people register and update their registration.

Morgan said she was surprised by the number of students who came out to vote, “During the training, they told us that it was going to have a big turnout, but I wasn’t expecting that many and was wondering if there would be enough work for all of us.” The first voter in the door at 7 a.m. was a first-time student voter which also surprised Morgan. “For a lot of people this was their first time voting, and you could tell that for a lot of them they were excited, willing to wait in the long line to do so.”

Morgan said her biggest takeaway was the impact young voters have. “I think hearing this versus seeing it was really different for me because you could see all of the people coming out to vote. There was nearly a 20% student turnout which I thought was fantastic.”

Kate Lochner – Poll Worker

UWL senior and Student Association College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CASSH) Senator Kate Lochner volunteered as a poll worker at the Student Union.

Lochner was encouraged to apply to work the polls this past summer when her friend informed her of an organization called Power the Polls. She then worked the primary elections back in August at the Public Library polling location. “The Student Union has a much younger voting population compared to the Public Library, and I enjoyed working with more student voters this time around,” she said.

“At the Student Union polling location, the majority of voters registered on Election Day,” said Lochner. This is what made her position working the supplemental books so important. There is certain information each voter has to present this being a photo ID and local address. “The voters who register on Election Day have to have their information entered into the supplemental poll books, which is what I spent most of the day doing,” she said

Lochner said she did not expect turnout to be as high as it was, “since our polling location serves mostly students and student voter turnout is generally low, especially in midterms.” She was shocked by the number of voters this election, “At the end of the day, our final number was 1,674 voters at the Student Union.”

The long, exhausting, 15-hour day gave Lochner more respect and appreciation for election workers. “It also took a lot of focus to make sure we didn’t make any mistakes throughout the day,” she said. Lochner encourages those interested to work the polls for the next election, “it is a very rewarding and interesting experience to be a part of.”

Morgan Hose – Poll Worker

UWL Senior, Executive Editor of The Racquet Press, and CASHH Senator Morgan Hose volunteered at the Student Union polling location as a poll worker. Because Hose had worked the polls before, La Crosse City Clerk, Nikki Elsen reached out to her. She was further persuaded to volunteer her time when the opportunity was brought up at a League of Women Voters meeting, “as the Student Representative, they also asked to see if I’d help, so I agreed.”

Hose’s first time as a poll worker was during the 2020 presidential election, where UWL hosted their polling location in Michell Hall. Hose said that the presidential election was very different because of the precautions that had to be followed due to COVID-19. “The Presidential election was also a lot more tense and nerve-wracking because it was my first time working the polls, it was during the pandemic, and it was a major election,” she said.

“Since we were short-staffed, I bounced around to a few positions,” said Hose. She was first assigned to work the supplemental poll books which she did for the majority of the time. Her other tasks included directing students to their assigned wards, verifying registration paperwork, and helping students fill out voter registration forms.

Hose has many reasons for volunteering her time to work the polls. “My main hope with working the polls on campus is that first-time voters and college students can feel relaxed and at ease by having another college student there to reassure them, help make the process smoother, and validate their feelings of nervousness and anxiety that I know a lot of college students feel while voting,” she said. In addition, Hose feels it is important for the younger generation to begin playing a role in running elections as the older generations have done for decades.

“I was truly blown away by the turnout of college students for a midterm election, not even a presidential election,” said Hose. She said she helped so many students who were first-time voters which made her feel hopeful for the future. “Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the negatives and the partisanship on campus, but working the polls made me realize that our generation is listening, they are discussing, and they are utilizing their right to vote,” she said. “They are the future, and they know they have the power to make it a hopeful one.”

Bryce Thomaschefsky – Poll Worker

UWL sophomore Bryce Thomaschefsky volunteered at the Student Union polling location. He had first heard about the opportunity in an email from his political science professor, Dr. James Syzmalak.

This was Thomashefsky’s first time working the polls. “I am actually thankful that my first time was during the midterm elections,” said Thomashefsky. “It allowed me to see how chaotic it can be at times, but everything ran smoothly.”

Thomashefsky was given a greeter position; the first-person voters see when they enter the polling location. Thomashefsky’s day started at 6 a.m. and until 8 p.m. he had multiple tasks. “It was our job to make sure that voters were in the correct polling place, registered or needing to be registered, sending voters to the appropriate line, and giving voters their ward numbers to make sure they receive the correct ballot for their ward.”

When asked what drew Thomaschefsky to work the election he said, “Voting is an amazing privilege that we get to take part in, and to see how much time and effort goes into making the day run smoothly was very eye-opening.” Thomaschefsky said he was happy to see people out exercising their right to vote. “My message to anyone would be that no matter where you may fall on the political spectrum: stay informed, take part, and understand that your vote matters.”