Wanted: Tech-Savvy Poll Workers

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It’s less than a month away from Election Day. And the Franklin County Board of Elections continues to train poll workers. WOSU reports there’s a steady shift in who’s working the polls.

It’s a cloudy Tuesday afternoon and Columbus State Community College students mill about the school’s courtyard. It’s around lunch time and the smell of hot dogs grilling hangs in the air.

The hot dogs are free, and hungry college students are drawn to them as if the Pied Piper were playing. Korie Jenkins is with Kids Voting, a non-partisan group that gets youth involved with the electoral process. Jenkins is working with the Franklin County Board of Elections to recruit college students to work the polls in November.

“It’s kind of a win-win situation. Free food and make some money,” Jemkins said.

As Jenkins hoped, the hot dogs lured in Dominique Crosby who’s a junior. Crosby says the extra $150 in his pocket sounded pretty good.

“But, um, I guess because it’s a good cause. I’ve really never done it before, and I always wanted to get into something like that. So, just to be some type of help to the community, Crosby said.

Raven Dodson is a freshman and a two-time poll worker through Youth at the Booth.

“Since I’m not in school anymore, well high school, I guess I’ll try this,” Dodson.

Organizers say the event was successful. Jenkins had at least 20 students sign up to work. He said in addition to some extra money, students can earn extra credit in courses like political science. It also gives them an opportunity to give back.

“Everyone should kind of get involved with their community in a sense, and I think it’s very important to, you know, vote,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins, Crosby and Dodson could be the new face of poll workers.

“There’s no rule that says you have to be retired to work the polls on Election Day,” Piscitelli said.

Franklin County Board of Elections spokesman Ben Piscitelli said the average age of poll worker is 62. And about one-third of poll workers have to be replaced every year.

“People who come into the process when they are young, when they are in high school, when they are in college, tend to keep working the polls during elections because if they have a good experience early on, they’re excited about that, they’re comfortable with it. It just becomes part of their makeup. They can’t imagine an election day without working the polls,” he said.

While Piscitelli said people of all ages are encouraged to work the polls, there’s an additional push for young people.

“It’s become more technological over the past several years. When you go in now for example someone’s going to look up your voter registration on a computer laptop. Time was they would have only done that on an index card,” Piscitelli said.

Piscitelli said the board of elections hopes to hire about 200 college students to work the election – they’re about halfway there.

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