- Associated Press - Monday, November 3, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Some Election Day poll workers may look a little young Tuesday. That’s because they are.

This year, the Monroe County Clerk’s Office tapped into a new demographic to fill open poll worker positions, opening the job up to interested high school students 16 or older, and received responses from more than 70 interested students. There will be about a dozen high school students working at the polls, said Mary Norman, who filled the positions for the clerk’s office.

Recruitment of poll workers starts at the party level, with Democrats and Republicans searching their respective parties for possible workers. Many jobs at the polls require both a Democrat and a Republican to keep the process balanced politically.

Parties have until 21 days before the election to fill as many spots as possible before the lists are turned into the clerk’s office. It then becomes that office’s responsibility to fill the open positions.

There are 219 workers needed for Monroe County’s polling places this year, and Norman told The Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/10jnggy ) that when the lists came to her, there were about 70 openings still left.



Though Norman could fill the positions with anybody, regardless of party, there was another suggestion made.

“We used a few high school students in the spring as a quick fill,” Norman said. “When we realized how enthusiastic they were, the suggestion came up again.”

Norman intended to contact the principals at Bloomington High School North and Bloomington High School South to set up recruitment tables in the cafeteria, but once teachers found out about the possibility, Norman was inundated with texts from students.

“Look at this,” said Norman, scrolling through the nearly 100 messages on her phone. “The enthusiasm.”

That’s how Collin Lynch found out about the opportunity.

Lynch, who will be voting in his first election this year, has an interest in politics and was involved in the Young Republicans at Bloomington North for a while. When he found out about the need for poll workers, he said, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I’m excited because I’m a judge, and it’s one of the higher positions,” Lynch said.

Lynch will be working at Jackson Creek Middle School and feels well prepared for his job on Election Day.

Though he won’t be working at the location where his family votes, Lynch knows a few of his friends and family friends vote at Jackson Creek, and he’ll have the opportunity to help them.

Other than that, there’s only one thing he’s expecting.

“I’m just expecting a very long day,” Lynch said. “I know the judges and inspector are going to have a lot to do.”

Norman said although she could have filled every open position with high school students, she tried to get a mix of new and experienced poll workers at polling sites.

“In a community like Bloomington, the awareness of everything with culture, politics and education, it’s nice to see you could provide an opportunity to grab the youth,” Norman said.

There also could be effects beyond Election Day.

“Now (parents) have something to discuss with their kids,” Norman said. “How do you talk to your kids about politics?”

Norman said she hopes the students are open to a whole new world of political engagement, especially since policies enacted today will be the ones affecting them in adulthood.

A number of poll workers have been working Election Day for decades, starting at the age of 16. Norman said she hopes some of the students working this election stick around like that, too.

“It was time for a change,” Norman said. “It was time for new blood in the precincts.”

___

Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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