With all the friction over elections in recent years, one rabbi is to bring peace to polling sites on Nov. 8, 2022, Election Day.
Rabbi Natalie Louise Shribman will be a chaplain at the polls, in Eau Claire, for this year’s midterm elections. Chaplains at the polls provide a peaceful presence and, if needed, help voters navigate in-person voting.
Shribman serves as rabbi for Temple Sholom in Eau Claire and does chaplaincy work in Marshfield. Shribman has voted absentee throughout her life but wants to become more involved with in person voting, she said.
“I’m interested in learning more about the process of voting in person, and what it looks like to have all of these different people coming together for the same reason, of possibly changing or keeping things the same,” Shribman said.
Shribman wants to ensure that voters have a good experience at the polls, by mitigating any conflicts that may come up on Election Day, she said.
“I think the idea of voting is a really great privilege we have in this country, and if we’re able to use it, that’s a wonderful thing,” Shribman said.
Chaplains at the polls are both Jewish and non-Jewish. During the 2020 presidential elections, others across Wisconsin served as chaplains on Election Day.
Madison last year
Rabbi Renee Bauer, the director of chaplaincy and outreach for Jewish Social Services of Madison, worked at two different polling sites during the 2020 elections.
“When they were asking for clergy to be a peaceful presence at the polls, I thought, well, that’s something I can do,” she said.
Bauer felt that the 2020 elections were particularly important and wanted to ensure that voters felt safe casting their votes.
“There was also a lot of concern, I think, in swing states that there might be disruptions at the polls,” she said.
Bauer did not experience any conflicts at the polls in 2020 and hopes that the chaplains will provide a peaceful presence again this year on election day, she said.
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis also worked as a chaplain during the 2020 elections and helped organize bringing rabbis to election sites.
Incorporating chaplains at the polls began from a partnership between Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice and the Wisconsin Council of Churches on the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign, she said.
During the 2020 election, they collaborated with national organizations that were providing active bystander de-escalation training and sent 12 clergy members to polls across Madison as a pilot program, she said.
“Basically, their job is to be at the polls to keep the peace, to make sure that things are kind of calm, that the voters feel safe and feel comfortable, and that they’re able to enter the polling place without harassment or intimidation from anyone,” Margulis said.
“We have a particular and unique niche in the voting rights landscape to be lifting up the faith voice, and we have clergy, and clergy have that ability to be a peaceful presence,” she said.
– Alexander Stone
* * *
How to vote
- Polls for the general election are open Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Races include governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general and secretary of state.
- Find your polling place, review the status of an absentee ballot, and more at Myvote.wi.gov