Dec 16, 2016

Wisconsin Needs Voting Rights Training for Poll Workers

Brown human being - If you see this man, don't call the police
Madison, Wisconsin — Following the recount in Wisconsin, it's clear questions pertaining to the lawful administration of elections are met with hostility by local and state officials.

There are numerous explanations for this anti-democratic posture.

Among them are the Republican Party's declared policy against free elections and voting rights, combined with the less-than-sophisticated local poll workers, (election inspectors), populating the many white municipalities of xenophobic Wisconsin.

There is a mandate from Election 2016. The problem is the mandate is neither Constitutional nor lawful, (it's indecent): White Wisconsin wants its country back from brown and black folks working to pass themselves off as real Americans. And how about those damn Hmong—you know they're not going back where they came from.

Participation in elections by black and brown folk is down significantly in 2016, a long-term objective of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, abetted by the Party's official selection of local poll workers begun after Scott Walker assumed office, among many other partisan machinations transforming the culture of the polling place and Wisconsin election law. [Note: Under Republican rule the formally non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau now offers a polemical explication of voting rights citing Republicans', (and only Republican), Wisconsin Supreme Court justices opinions, omitting federal voting rights litigation, civil rights case precedents and dissenting Wisconisn Supreme Court opinions. For a non-partisan online reproduction of the Wisconsin Constitution, see BallotPedia. See also Mal Contends 2013, and Mal Contends 2013 for related analysis.]

Reaction by the Democratic Party is one of moribund indifference and stultifying ignorance. Democracy is weak in Wisconsin.

There are remedies. One is to vote out Republicans, not a likely prospect in the near future in heavily segregated and gerrymandered Wisconsin.

But there's a local remedy: Easy-to-implement and requiring no new expenditures. Follow some of the advice of voting rights champions that has been around for decades and studiously ignored.

Here are two objectives of election officials culled from the California Secretary of State's office in 2006, found with little effort. Pretty simple: A. Poll Workers Must Know the Rights of Voters and B. Poll Workers Must Be Trained in Cultural Sensitivity

Poll Worker Training Guidelines, 2006
California Secretary of State

Poll worker training must include an overview of the mission or role of the poll worker, which is to assist every qualified voter to cast a ballot and to ensure that each ballot is safely secured until it can be counted. A large part of that role is to provide a positive voting experience for all, and to ensure that the rights of everyone seeking to vote are protected and ensured. Poll workers should be trained to process and assist all voters with a customer service mentality in order to make their experience as positive as possible. To fulfill that role, poll workers should be familiar with the rights of voters, be trained in cultural sensitivity, know how and when to assist voters with disabilities or other specific needs, and know their responsibilities and the limits relating to them. These four areas of knowledge are discussed independently below, but are inter-related components that must be integrated in the overall mandate of ensuring that the rights of voters are protected, respected and valued. 

A.  Poll Workers Must Know the Rights of Voters (pp. 1-6)

B.  Poll Workers Must be Trained in Cultural Sensitivity

Given the great diversity of the population in California, [and most any state], poll workers must be instructed to treat all voters with respect and to respond to each individual’s needs to ensure that voters of all backgrounds are comfortably and respectfully able to participate in the voting process. Poll workers must be trained on “cultural competency” – the ability to recognize and to respond to cultural concerns or sensitivities of various groups. ...

To ensure that each poll worker is skilled in cultural competency, the training of poll workers should include instruction on the following: 

Respect for Differences
Poll workers must be trained to understand the importance of cultural sensitivity. They must be instructed to treat all voters with the same respect, courtesy and level of service, regardless of how they look or what language they speak. They must be encouraged to be considerate and patient, anticipate voters’ needs, and offer assistance when possible. For example, when checking in a voter, the poll worker must politely determine how to spell the voter’s name. Train poll workers to politely ask voters how to spell their names, provide paper and pen for voters to write it down, or accept for spelling purposes if a voter offers to show his or her name in print on an identification card or other document. Poll workers may not require proof of identify except under the circumstances outlined previously (first-time voter who mailed in a voter registration card). ...

Use Three Tools of “Wait – Recognize – Listen.” 
Poll workers should be instructed to use three tools on Election Day:
• Wait - Slow down the instinctive reaction to launch into a quick response. Wait first to process the question, then formulate a reasoned, respectful response.
• Recognize – Poll workers must focus on how to recognize other people’s feelings and anticipate their needs and be sensitive, accommodating and courteous in assisting them.  
• Listen – Poll workers must listen before speaking in order to understand exactly what the voter is feeling, seeing, needing, and trying to say/communicate. It is most important to remember to put automatic assumptions aside in order not to stereotype and to better enable the worker to hear and understand a voter’s responses. 

Voter Privacy
Poll workers must be trained to respect the voter’s privacy. This is not only a courtesy, it is a legal requirement. Training must emphasize the importance of voter confidentiality and clearly detail procedures for handling each ballot, no matter which language it contains. ...

Cultural Competency
Training Training poll workers on cultural competency must include information about citizens who speak a language other than English; citizens from a racial or ethnic minority; citizens who have physical or mental disabilities, citizens with low literacy skills; and citizens who are elderly.  ...

Removing Insensitive Poll Workers
If a poll worker is identified on Election Day as being culturally insensitive, or otherwise unsuitable for a particular polling place, that poll worker should be reported to the election official and immediately relieved of their precinct duties.
Like that's going to happen.

I would offer a third guideline: Recognize that white Wisconsin racism is an unConstitutional toxic combustion that will not dissipate by inattention, and a corollary:  Just because a black or brown voter shows up to vote does not make this voter a threat. It's a civil liberties thing.

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