Many spots are still available in Ohio for high school students to participate as poll workers with Youth at the Booth in the November 8 midterm election, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
Ohio election officials encourage young people to participate in the electoral process by registering to vote and by training to serve as poll workers. According to the Pew Research Center, volunteer poll workers serving in U.S. elections are primarily middle-aged and older.
Despite these positions offering valuable opportunities for electoral engagement, young people remain vastly underrepresented among poll workers. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), in the counties where data on poll workers by age is available, 9 percent of all poll workers are under age 25, and 3 percent are under age 18.
Many counties in Ohio are trying to incentivize the younger population to get involved in the electoral process by participating with Youth at the Booth.
Franklin, Hamilton, Butler, Warren, and Trumble are among the counties partnering with area schools to attract participation from the younger demographic.
Students interested in being poll workers must be at least 17 years old and a senior in high school, be a U.S. citizen and reside in the county they would be working in, must be able to read and write English, arrange their own transportation to the assigned polling location for a 5:30 a.m. start time, attend training classes, and able to assist with lifting up to 35 pounds, according to the secretary of state.
“We’d love to see these young voters-to-be get a head start on civic engagement, learn firsthand how secure and accessible Ohio‘s elections are, put some spending money in their pocket, and add a unique experience to their college application,” the Secretary of State Frank LaRose said when the program was announced in June.
Being a poll worker provides a hands-on experience of democracy in action and the opportunity to earn some money for a day’s work. Youth poll workers in Ohio get paid a little more than $130 for serving on Election Day plus an additional $25 for attending training. Youth poll workers serve voters with the same responsibilities as adult poll workers by helping open the voting machines, assisting voters, and helping close the voting machines.
Each school sets its own parameters for excusing students to be poll workers and some schools even allow extra credit for this community service. Students interested in participating with Youth at the Booth should contact their school’s office to see if there is an opportunity for them to be poll workers.
Officials hope that by participating in the voting process, young adults will understand the importance of exercising their voting rights for years to come.
There is no registration deadline to sign up to be a poll worker. Individuals register online at the Secretary of State’s website. Selected workers will receive a call from the Board of Elections with further instructions. If the election an individual has registered to work in already has enough poll workers election officials may still call them for a different upcoming election. Individuals can check if their county still needs poll workers at https://pollworkertracker.ohiosos.gov/.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Poll Workers on Election Day” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.