Credit: Laura Wooten photo

At the age 97, poll worker Laura Wooten of Lawrence, N.J. has been advocating for people to exercise their right to vote since 1939. She recently received the Leadership Award from the National Newspaper Publishers Association for her service and is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from a New Jersey chapter of the NAACP

“I just enjoy working at the polls,” she said in a recent interview with the NNPA. “I meet a lot of people. People I haven’t seen in years, that come out to vote, which means a lot to me.”

As the midterm elections are just weeks away, she said in a recent interview that she’s on a crusade to get more people to the polls. The longtime poll worker said that over her eight decades working in elections, she is seeing a drop in people exercising their civic duty so many fought for.

“I encourage the young people that they are American citizens, and they should go out and vote,” Wooten said. “The only change you’re going to see is if you vote. You can’t complain if you don’t vote.”

Wooten is also telling Black women to head to the polls next month. She said she was pleased to see a Black president but also hopes to see another historical moment.

“Black women should come out and vote because we were the last to get to vote,” she said. “I never thought I’d see a Black president in my lifetime. Someday I hope to see a woman in the presidency and see what she will do for the country.”

On Election Day, Wooten is setting voting machines and putting in a full day from 5:15 a.m. to 8 p.m.