Volunteering to be a student poll worker might not sound like the most glamorous way to spend your Tuesdays, but we have a few reasons that might change your mind. The need for student poll workers in our democracy is super important but hardly ever emphasized. Here’s why you should consider making the sacrifice:
- Prevent Voter Suppression
As a student poll worker, you have the power to combat student voter suppression! This is the most important reason to become a poll worker. In recent years we’ve witnessed some terrible examples of student voter suppression. Students are put into longer lines, asked to provide unnecessary identification and illegally denied the ability to register where they go to school. Additionally, new voter ID laws have caused students and minorities undue complications when trying to cast their ballots. If you are passionate about making sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to vote then becoming a poll worker is the perfect hands on way for you to do that!
- Get $$
Election Day workers are often referred to as “volunteers”. What you don’t know is that most poll workers actually get paid! The rate of the stipend is determined by the election jurisdiction you are in. If you live in New York City, for example, you can be paid about $200 or more. Places like San Diego pay an additional $15 to attract poll workers who are bilingual. Most jurisdictions pay around $100 for compensation. This is your opportunity to do your civic duty WHILE adding to that Chipotle fund!
- Volunteer experience
If you’re really into volunteer work, poll work might be up your alley. What better way to improve your community than to help people vote on important issues. Regularly volunteering at the polls can be a great addition to your resume as it shows that you are involved in both your community and your democracy and that you care about the fairness and transparency of the political process.
- Help the voting process go smoother
The average poll worker is around the age of 75. Having younger people working at the polls creates a much more efficient situation when it comes to voting. Poll workers set the tone for the ease or difficulty that voters will face at each precinct. A recent study shows that the number of young, fresh faces at polling stations is directly connected to the satisfaction that voters had with their experience.
- Use your technology skills
Since the passage of election reform laws in 2002, the role that technology plays in the voting process is HUGE. So let’s be real, if your grandma needs your help working her iPhone, chances are she might encounter issues with computerized ballots. Your familiarity with technology is very much appreciated and absolutely needed at the polls! (Love you grandma!)
- Take charge of your democracy
The coolest thing about being a poll worker is taking an active role in your government. You’ll have the power to decide who can and cannot vote, and what type of ballot they can cast. That’s a huge responsibility. If you have a passion for social justice and change, you should definitely consider taking on the challenge. Just like feminist Emma Watson, we have to ask ourselves the big questions: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”.
Find out the requirements for becoming a poll worker by contacting your county’s election board. For more information check out: http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/become_a_poll_worker.aspx