San Mateo Co. looks for student poll workers

September 17, 2008 1:41:48 PM PDT
High school and college students throughout San Mateo County are eligible to sign up for a program that puts them directly into the electoral process.

DemocracyLIVE!, the county's student poll worker program, offers students "an inside look at democracy," said Carol Marks, spokeswoman for chief elections officer Warren Slocum.

Students can earn $125 by signing up as poll workers during the presidential election on Nov. 4, elections officials said.

High school juniors and seniors who are at least 16 years old, live in the county, are U.S. citizens and have a GPA of at least 2.5 can participate with teacher and principal approval.

The student poll workers will work alongside adult poll workers, taking voters' names, issuing ballots, assisting voters and opening and closing polling places, Marks said.

High school students must apply through their schools to obtain permission to miss classes that day. College students can participate by simply signing up online.

College students can sign up either through the democracyLIVE! program or as regular poll workers. Those going through democracyLIVE! may be able to receive credit for volunteer hours.

Participating students are paid $25 for completing the required training and $100 for working on Election Day. Training classes are held at schools that have at least 20 students participating in the democracyLIVE! program. Poll workers work from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with several one-hour breaks.

By getting students involved in the election process, the program aims to "encourage a new generation to become active participants in the decisions made in this country," Marks said.

Marks said the elections office is hoping at least 500 students take part this November, and said all of the county's high schools now participate in the program.

"We have been lucky," she said. "It is a program that has been building. The response has been very enthusiastic."

Marks said the elections office tends to need more help for the larger elections, such as gubernatorial and presidential elections, which are also more instructive for students.

"It's really an experience that they won't forget, and this election is going to be historic," Marks said. "As Warren (Slocum) likes to say, it's one you are going to tell your grandkids about."

Students interested in participating in democracyLIVE can find information about the program online. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 30.

While the elections office is urging students to participate in democracyLive!, non-student poll workers are also in great demand. Marks said the elections office is "desperate" for residents to sign up.

Information for non-student poll workers is also available online. Interested residents can also contact organizers directly at (650) 286-2810 or by e-mail at registrar@smcare.org.


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