Working the Polls


Jillian Parks

On November 3rd, when everybody was waking up late and enjoying the day off, I was up at 5 am working the polls for the election. Each election clerk had a different role at different times, but the work was anything but challenging. It was a long (14 hour) day with a lot of waiting, scanning, and suppressing political conversations, but it was worth-it, and a huge learning experience for me. 

Things Worth Mentioning:

We could not talk politics at all. Any names, issues, or topics that brought about political discourse was strictly prohibited as electioneering. Electioneering is anything that solicits a vote or is otherwise speaking to voters regarding how they vote. This was difficult as it is, arguably, the most political day of the year. 

The US desperately needs poll workers. According to CNBC, “More than 900,000 volunteers are needed to operate polling sites across the country.” There was a surge in poll workers this year, which was much needed, but that pattern needs to continue into primary, primary run-off, basically the less popular elections as well. Poll workers need to be 16 years or older (with permission from the student’s high school), and they are paid $12 an hour. 

Aside from making money, seeing democracy first hand was in itself gratifying. Without all the propaganda, yelling, and arguing, I could not tell the difference between a Democrat and a Republican when they walked into the polling station. They were all just people, voting for what they believe to be right and exercising their rights as Americans. We cheered for every first-time voter without any indication of their political preference. 

If you are wanting people to vote, participate in the process! Find an election center, sign up with your friends, and, overall, be kind regardless of what candidate is declared the victor within the next few days.