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Maryland Professors at the Polls: A Pilot Project Encouraging Faculty (and Students) to Serve as Poll Workers in the 2006 Elections

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Abstract:

As part of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the American Association of University Professors we developed a pilot program across the state of Maryland to encourage faculty members to serve as non-partisan poll workers in the 2006 elections. Beginning in the fall of 2005, we contacted over ninety faculty members at twenty institutions of higher learning, coordinated meetings and outreach in Washington, DC and Annapolis, MD to promote the initiative among faculty over a one-year period. This activity resulted in thirty-five volunteers at seven institutions of higher learning in Maryland. Among these volunteers, twenty-three ultimately served as polling judges in the 2006 elections.

The statewide interest and enthusiasm illustrated the feasibility of this project elsewhere in the country, especially given the limited financial investment necessary to administer the program. Moreover, the problems and confusions Maryland faced during its 2006 elections suggest the overwhelming need for similar programs in future elections. Maryland, like other states, must recruit competent, well-trained judges to insure the integrity of future elections.

Nevertheless this study also provided important lessons for the future concerning recruiting and retaining faculty as election judges. (1) Specific organizations associated with civic education at institutions of higher learning should be tasked with recruitment rather than faculty or administrators alone. (2) There needs to be greater financial investment in recruitment activities in future programs to attract larger numbers of faculty and staff. (3) Recruitment at institutions of higher education should be coordinated with county boards of elections to insure proper numbers of volunteers within each county. (4) Boards of elections should improve their strategies to target faculty and staff to serve as election judges. (5) The Election Day length of service required for judges is likely to dissuade faculty members from volunteering or continuing to serve over multiple election cycles. (6) Faculty that served as poll judges report high levels of satisfaction, provided problems did not occur at their polling station. This suggests retention of faculty as elections judges may be possible under well-designed systems.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

elect (130), maryland (72), judg (68), faculti (64), poll (55), 2006 (46), state (42), serv (40), volunt (35), vote (30), recruit (29), program (25), day (23), problem (20), train (20), univers (20), colleg (19), student (19), professor (19), counti (18), initi (18),

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election judging, polls, Maryland, professors, civic engagement
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MLA Citation:

Messitte, Zach. and Cain, Michael. "Maryland Professors at the Polls: A Pilot Project Encouraging Faculty (and Students) to Serve as Poll Workers in the 2006 Elections" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California, Feb 22, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245587_index.html>

APA Citation:

Messitte, Z. P. and Cain, M. J. , 2008-02-22 "Maryland Professors at the Polls: A Pilot Project Encouraging Faculty (and Students) to Serve as Poll Workers in the 2006 Elections" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, San Jose Marriott, San Jose, California Online <PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p245587_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: As part of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the American Association of University Professors we developed a pilot program across the state of Maryland to encourage faculty members to serve as non-partisan poll workers in the 2006 elections. Beginning in the fall of 2005, we contacted over ninety faculty members at twenty institutions of higher learning, coordinated meetings and outreach in Washington, DC and Annapolis, MD to promote the initiative among faculty over a one-year period. This activity resulted in thirty-five volunteers at seven institutions of higher learning in Maryland. Among these volunteers, twenty-three ultimately served as polling judges in the 2006 elections.

The statewide interest and enthusiasm illustrated the feasibility of this project elsewhere in the country, especially given the limited financial investment necessary to administer the program. Moreover, the problems and confusions Maryland faced during its 2006 elections suggest the overwhelming need for similar programs in future elections. Maryland, like other states, must recruit competent, well-trained judges to insure the integrity of future elections.

Nevertheless this study also provided important lessons for the future concerning recruiting and retaining faculty as election judges. (1) Specific organizations associated with civic education at institutions of higher learning should be tasked with recruitment rather than faculty or administrators alone. (2) There needs to be greater financial investment in recruitment activities in future programs to attract larger numbers of faculty and staff. (3) Recruitment at institutions of higher education should be coordinated with county boards of elections to insure proper numbers of volunteers within each county. (4) Boards of elections should improve their strategies to target faculty and staff to serve as election judges. (5) The Election Day length of service required for judges is likely to dissuade faculty members from volunteering or continuing to serve over multiple election cycles. (6) Faculty that served as poll judges report high levels of satisfaction, provided problems did not occur at their polling station. This suggests retention of faculty as elections judges may be possible under well-designed systems.

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