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Civic Engagement and College Student Poll Workers: Who works the Polls on Election Day?
Unformatted Document Text:  Abstract This paper asks the question: what type of student works the polls on Election Day? The question is based on data collected through a grant awarded through the Elections Assistance Commission College Student Poll Worker Program. This program was enacted as part of the Help America Vote Act (2002) which creates a need for more poll workers, particularly those with advanced technical skills and knowledge of languages other than English. Recruiting competent and available poll workers has also become an issue of national concern as both national and state-level policy changes mandate that electronic voting systems be in place and available to voters. College campuses are fertile ground for recruiting poll workers who are comfortable with high technology voting systems. The push to recruit college student poll workers is reinforced by current poll worker characteristics. First and foremost, the average age of poll workers nationally is 72. Second, and related, college students are, as a group, more technologically savvy than are older generations. Students who begin working the polls while in college may continue doing so for the next several decades. This means that recruiting younger poll workers will address short and long term election-related needs. In August 2006, the authors were awarded an Elections Assistance Commission grant. The primary purpose of the grant was to recruit college students to work as poll workers in the November 2006 general election. The authors live in a state where an open seat governor’s race was being contested in 2006. High turnout, and a critical need for poll workers, was anticipated in that election despite the election taking place at congressional midterm. The recruitment effort covered two schools: The University of Central Florida (UCF), the seventh largest university in the nation, located in Orlando, Florida and Valencia Community College (VCC), a public community college that serves Orange County, Florida. Orange County includes Orlando, Florida. The recruitment effort resulted in over 300 students expressing interest in the program, while 99 actually worked the polls. This seemingly low percentage is similar to that experienced by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, where less than 30% of those who express initial interest actually work the polls on Election Day. The authors considered various questions pertaining to the students who worked the polls and found that the average student poll worker age was around 22. In this paper, the authors propose to consider other questions about the students who worked the polls: what was their GPA and major? Had they had academic exposure to the political process by taking an introductory American government course? How many were male or female? Based on these findings, what are the prospects for integrating this civic engagement experience into university curricula? 2

Authors: Fine, Terri.
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Abstract
This paper asks the question: what type of student works the polls on Election
Day? The question is based on data collected through a grant awarded through the
Elections Assistance Commission College Student Poll Worker Program. This program
was enacted as part of the Help America Vote Act (2002) which creates a need for more
poll workers, particularly those with advanced technical skills and knowledge of
languages other than English. Recruiting competent and available poll workers has also
become an issue of national concern as both national and state-level policy changes
mandate that electronic voting systems be in place and available to voters. College
campuses are fertile ground for recruiting poll workers who are comfortable with high
technology voting systems.
The push to recruit college student poll workers is reinforced by current poll
worker characteristics. First and foremost, the average age of poll workers nationally is
72. Second, and related, college students are, as a group, more technologically savvy
than are older generations. Students who begin working the polls while in college may
continue doing so for the next several decades. This means that recruiting younger poll
workers will address short and long term election-related needs.
In August 2006, the authors were awarded an Elections Assistance Commission
grant. The primary purpose of the grant was to recruit college students to work as poll
workers in the November 2006 general election. The authors live in a state where an
open seat governor’s race was being contested in 2006. High turnout, and a critical need
for poll workers, was anticipated in that election despite the election taking place at
congressional midterm.
The recruitment effort covered two schools: The University of Central Florida
(UCF), the seventh largest university in the nation, located in Orlando, Florida and
Valencia Community College (VCC), a public community college that serves Orange
County, Florida. Orange County includes Orlando, Florida.
The recruitment effort resulted in over 300 students expressing interest in the
program, while 99 actually worked the polls. This seemingly low percentage is similar to
that experienced by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, where less than 30% of
those who express initial interest actually work the polls on Election Day.
The authors considered various questions pertaining to the students who worked
the polls and found that the average student poll worker age was around 22. In this
paper, the authors propose to consider other questions about the students who worked the
polls: what was their GPA and major? Had they had academic exposure to the political
process by taking an introductory American government course? How many were male
or female? Based on these findings, what are the prospects for integrating this civic
engagement experience into university curricula?
2


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