A 77-Year Streak of Service at the Polls

Laura Mitnaul Wooten of Lawrenceville has worked every Election Day since 1939.

Photo courtesy of Yvonne Hill

At 4:30 am on Election Day, November 8, while millions of Americans sleep, 95-year-old Laura Mitnaul Wooten plans to head to the polls—not just to vote but to work as she has every Election Day in Mercer County for the last 77 years. That’s a county record and may also be a state—and even a national—record. “She’s an excellent worker,” says Mercer County elections chair Joanne Palmucci.

Wooten got her start in 1939 when her uncle, Anderson Mitnaul, ran for justice of the peace in Princeton and recruited her to work for $10 as a “challenger” at what was known as the Colored Y. Four years later, she was “working the tables,” checking voter identification.

“Our mother is a symbol of patriotism,” says daughter Yvonne Hill. “She served under the administration of 13 different presidents in 20 presidential elections.” Wooten, the mother of five and a widow since 1990, lives alone in Lawrenceville. A former nurse’s aide and teaching assistant, she has 16 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandchild on the way.

Wooten hasn’t lost any enthusiasm for her work. “On primary day, the person who was supposed to give her a ride to work was late,” says her daughter, “so she started walking.”

“I didn’t want to be late,” Wooten explains.

Wooten waves off any thoughts of retiring from her year-round job (she’s an ID checker at a Princeton University dining hall) or from her work with the board of elections. “I’m not about to stop now,” she says. “Voting is important.”

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