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Alverno College gives students, faculty and staff the day off on Election Day to take part in the political process

Date Released: October 31 2012

            Students, faculty and staff at Alverno College will be given the day off on presidential Election Day to practice effective citizenship, one of the College’s eight trademark abilities.  In addition, nearly 200 Alverno College students will be actively involved in the political process as they train to be poll workers for the upcoming Nov. 6 elections. The training is providing the students an opportunity to practice their own effective citizenship.

            “This will be the third major election that the Alverno community has been involved in, and students’ experiences as poll workers have been very positive,” said Susan Leister, director of Alverno’s Internship office and the coordinator of the Poll Worker Training Project. “They gain a trust in the election process and a new awareness of the responsibility they have as citizens to vote, especially after observing the obstacles some voters overcome to get to the polls.”

            This is the third time Alverno has offered poll worker training sessions on campus; the first was for the 2008 presidential election. Alverno was also closed on presidential Election Day in November 2008 to encourage all members of the Alverno community to be more involved in the political process. “It is so important for our students to be engaged, effective citizens,” said Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D., president of Alverno College. “It is part of the foundation of the Alverno experience. We want our students to make informed choices and be involved in community issues.”

            The U.S. Election Assistance Commission awarded Alverno a grant to train students as poll workers for the upcoming elections. The grant is one of only 15 awarded nationally in a competition that drew more than 200 proposals. It is helping Alverno and the Milwaukee Election Commission recruit and train students – including several Spanish-speaking students – to help in election activities and create materials for the upcoming election, along with future poll worker recruitment programs.

            In addition, the grant enables Alverno to offer leadership opportunities to two interns – Isela Ramirez and Elizabeth Flores Bustamante – who are assisting with the grant activities and work with the Milwaukee Election Commission.

            In total, the College has held 10 poll worker training sessions on campus throughout October. Representatives from the Milwaukee County Election Commission and the City of Milwaukee Election Commission, Alverno alumnae Lisa Catlin-Weiner and Naomi Guddie, have been leading the two-hour training sessions in which participants are trained as election inspectors or site coordinator assistants. All positions are paid, including a stipend for training, and require poll workers to work half- or full-day shifts.  Poll worker responsibilities include greeting voters, verifying voters’ polling sites, registering new voters, assisting the chief election inspector at each site, handing out ballots, check-in, handling voting machines, helping to maintain traffic flow at the sites and other related tasks. To date, 200 students have completed the training and have been assigned to voting wards throughout the City of Milwaukee.