Web Extra: Students work the polls

The Board of Elections needs poll workers. Teachers need teaching moments. The two accommodated each other this past Election Day.

On Nov. 6, many 18-year-olds served as greeters and judges at polling places in Madison County. The new recruits are the result of a Board of Elections initiative that began last year.

Prior to the election, Deputy Director Matthew Tlachac spread the word to area high schools. Several students signed up for the experience, which entailed registering to vote, orientation, training and working the polls.

"We had four take part last year. This year we had eight," said Linville Herald who team-teaches the advanced placement government and civilization course with Steve Jackson at Madison-Plains High School.

Twenty-five Madison-Plains students wanted to be poll workers, but scheduling conflicts kept them from making it to orientation, Herald said.

"As social studies teachers, we need to encourage civic participation in our students. What better way to do that than by voting. By seeing how the process works, they are much more willing to participate," he said.

Matt Gore and Beth Havens, seniors at Madison-Plains, were stationed as greeters for the Board of Elections at the polls at Mount Sterling Nazarene Church. They worked from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and each earned $50.

"I signed up because I figured it would be a good experience. I always like to meet new people. It also was a way to get used to voting and the voting polls," said Gore.

Havens was excited to vote for the first time and to have the chance to see the process in action.

"Being able to sit and watch everybody, I learned alot," she said. "There’s a lot more to it than you would imagine. I was surprised that Mount Sterling had four precincts. That seems like a lot for a little town. I can’t imagine what it’s like to work the polls in Columbus."

Madison-Plains seniors Cody Fralick and Lauren Sollars were judges at their respective poll assignments. Both worked from about 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. They each earned $100.

"I helped set up and count ballots before we got started," said Fralick who worked the polls at London Public Library. "After the polls opened, I checked people’s names off the list, gave them ballots, and showed them how to use the machine. When the polls closed, I helped count the ballots and tear down."

Fralick said he was nervous going into the day, but credited Rebecca Garrett, the presiding judge at his location, for keeping things organized.

"It was pretty cool," he said.

Sollars concurred. She was a judge at the polls at Fairfield Township Hall.

"I was really nervous going into it because the book (for poll workers) has a lot of rules, but when I got there, it was a lot calmer than I expected," she said. "There were a lot of questions, but it went smoothly."

To learn more about how to become a poll worker, call the Madison County Board of Elections at 740-852-9424.

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