New Jersey poll worker hasn’t missed an election in 79 years

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PRINCETON -

A poll worker from Mercer County will turn 98 years old next month and hasn’t missed an election in nearly 80 years.

Laura Wooten, of Lawrence Township, still has a job at Princeton University checking student IDs at the dining hall. 

She will take the day off from that job this Election Day to serve as a poll worker for her 79th year. She hasn’t missed an election since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

This includes last year, when her brother died a day before Election Day and she was unable to get a ride to the polls. She walked to get there.

“Voting is very important. Because if there was no voting a lot of things would still be the same,” she says.

Wooten grew up in Princeton when it was what she called a “southern-northern town.” Schools, hospitals and movie theaters were still segregated.

“We had one black doctor, which would put you in the hospital, but couldn’t come see you,” she says.

Wooten says that it was the ballot box that changed this. She says that this is why she votes and works at the polls.

“A lot of us do not vote. They say, ‘Our vote doesn’t count.’ But how can they could they count if they don’t vote? That’s the only way you’re going to get changes made. I’ve seen a lot of changes but there’s still a lot that need to be made,” she says.

Wooten says that she will get up at 4 a.m. Tuesday and work the polls at the firehouse near her home in Lawrence Township. She says she will work until the polls close and be back on the job at Princeton Wednesday morning.

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