Paula Bowman, of Plymouth, is your go-to in case of an emergency, well at least for voting.

MICHIGAN — Paula Bowman, the vice president of the statewide League of Women Voters, puts out election fires so to speak. In the August primary, she worked election polls for the first time. Bowman was also called to a voting precinct in northwest Detroit as an emergency worker on the day of Aug. 4. It was one of three polling locations in the city that opened later due to what the Michigan Department of State called “a shortage of election workers.”

She was summoned at about 10 a.m. that morning due to other polling workers not arriving at all.

Her tasks were simple, including wiping down voting booths and instructing voters how to feed ballots into the tabulator. She had no prior training.

“It did catch me off guard,” said Bowman, whose husband has been a poll worker in Plymouth Township for a number of years. “I wasn’t anticipating it.”

READ MORE: What You Need to Know About Registering to Vote in Michigan

Civic Responsibility And A Sense of Satisfaction

She retired in the past year, allowing her more time to do things like be a poll worker. The League of Women Voters is one of many entities that encourages citizens to participate in the democratic process of voting however it works for them.

Bowman said she wanted to “practice what I was preaching (as a League advocate).”

“When I started to hear more and more about the need for poll workers—we have had so many poll workers choose not to participate—I felt so compelled about some of the messages of the need for poll workers,” she said.

While she admitted there was “a mix of feelings” of being present at a polling location 45 minutes away from her home in the midst of COVID-19, she said there “truly was not a lot of apprehension.”

She said both the workers and the voters were respectful, even in a time where masks are encouraged but not required.

“Without exception, everybody was wearing a mask,” she said. “I was really proud of that community for taking that seriously. … It was actually a very satisfying day.”

The Detroit-based precinct had a satisfactory amount of personal protection equipment, she added, including gloves, masks, shields and hand sanitizers that have become customary across voting locations nationwide.

At her location, Bowman was just one of three poll workers. On that day, that number was enough.

“In this precinct that was probably fine with the traffic we got on election day,” she said. “We rarely had a line and the three of us were able to cope pretty well.”

SEE ALSO: What You Need to Know About Registering to Vote in Michigan

‘This Is Not A Normal Year’

The League of Women Voters participated in a national poll worker signup day on Sept. 1, trying to encourage more citizens to participate— especially those in younger age groups.

Bowman “definitely” plans to receive training to contribute more this November. For her, the money didn’t matter. But she understands that can be an incentive for others to devote their time.

She anticipates working another polling location not close to home in November, due to what she described as an “adequate” amount of poll workers in the area in which she lives.

“When we look at the volatility of this election and the fact that I think more voters are voting in November than every year in distant memory, this is not a normal year,” she said. “Even though the virus may keep down some of those in-person numbers, they’re going to be higher due to significant partisan leanings.”

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