Woman inspires students to be a part of election process

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CLOQUET, MN — For more than a decade now, Carla Houle has been teaching high school students the importance of being an election judge.

The Fond du Lac Band member says she was once the youngest election judge in her precinct. Now, she’s one of the oldest, and spends her time showing the next generation what it’s like to be in her seat.

“We just do the set-ups and we wait, and the people come in. We greet them. We’re happy to meet them. If they need help, we help them,” Houle said. “It’s just entertaining. It’s fun.”

Houle knows her way around the voting booths.

“Ever since I was a kid, I remember coming to this area to vote,” Houle said.

Now, on the other side of the table in her seat as head election judge, she takes the time to pass her knowledge onto the students.

“When I first started, people were saying: ‘ Oh, I pitty you. I’m sorry you have to do that.’ And I’m going: ‘Sorry? It’s a privilege! It’s a privilege,” Houle said.

Houle spends time showing students how to properly set up, interact with voters, and move from station to station.

“Carla has been amazing in teaching me and including me in the entire process and making sure that am seeing the ins and outs,” Cloquet High School Senior Lexi Cooke said.

Students say their time spent with Houle is well worth it.

“When you get there, you’re a little nervous. Like, what am I doing? I’m an official judge and everything, but they just kind of walk you through like: ‘Hey, this all you have to do.” And they explain it very well, so it makes it really easy to do a job like this,” Cloquet High School Senior Kelly Lorenz said.

Houle says voting is an important right for youth to understand, and being able to teach them that makes her days all the more rewarding.

“It’s just so nice,” Houle said. “It’s just nice.”

Gamiel Hall

Gamiel Hall

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