Story by Eddie Zhou
Illustration by Terry Song
Students are taking charge at the polls in preparation for the upcoming election, with multiple SPHS seniors preparing to work as poll workers on the Nov. 3 Election Day. Although most high schoolers cannot vote, they remain passionate about making civic contributions in any way possible.
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many citizens are resorting to mail-in ballots, but voting centers remain imperative to the efficacy of the nation’s voting process. In the 2016 election, 56 percent of poll workers were senior citizens, while just 5 percent were under 18, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Committee. However, the threat of the coronavirus has scared off many senior citizens, leaving voting centers to rely on increased youth participation.
“I initially wanted my parents to sign up to be an election worker, but then I saw that students could do it as well,” senior Audrey Ernst said. “I don’t want to look back at this election and realize I didn’t do anything to help. This is probably the most crucial election in our lifetime and I want to know that I did my part.”
Ernst discovered the L.A. County Student Election Worker Program, which recruits and trains students for eight hours to work at the polls. Poll workers will assist with opening and closing the voting center, processing voters throughout the day, and answering voter questions while practicing social distancing measures. Participating students work from 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Election Day and for 11 hours on one of the two weekends prior, earning them a maximum stipend of $380.
After learning about the program from Ernst, AP Government teacher Maryann Nielsen encouraged students to sign up for it to actively experience the keystone of America’s democratic process.
“The opportunity to serve as poll workers will definitely help SPHS students see firsthand the voting process and the importance of voting in our democracy,” Nielsen said. “It will give them a stronger sense of political efficacy, which could have long lasting effects in their lives as they seek ways to get involved in the system or work to bring about change.”