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Student Poll Workers Share Experiences

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O’Dowd students who served as poll workers in last week’s General Election learned the importance of patience, being courteous and maintaining a calm demeanor – even when dealing with confused or unhappy voters.

Maksymilian Bialek ’17, Mark Gravador ’17 and Tyler LeBoa ’17 had an opportunity to share their poll working experiences with classmates the day after the election.

Having put in a full day shift – that stretched from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. – the students were tired yet exhilarated. “I stayed up until about 1:30 a.m. to see the final results,” Gravador said. “It was truly an enlightening experience as I was able to vote for the very first time, work at the polls and experience first-hand how the election process works.”

Issues the students dealt with included voters being confused about their polling location, weathering the early morning and evening rushes, and being patient with some voters who took upwards of an hour to mark their ballots. They also fielded complaints from voters when their polling sites ran out of English language “I Voted” stickers.

Still, the students said they would definitely volunteer again.

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Assigned to a polling site located in the cafeteria at Vannoy Elementary School in Castro Valley, LeBoa had a fun experience when second and third grade students came through to see how the process worked. “I really enjoyed talking with the classes,” he said.

Along with another poll worker, LeBoa explained what was going on and showed students how the scanner that reads ballots worked and where voters dropped off mail in ballots.

“Even though my 18th birthday isn’t until March and I was unable to vote, it was a really cool learning experience in a very historic election. It was interesting to learn firsthand how the voting system in American works,” LeBoa said.

Said Gravador “The passion, dedication, and commitment of my fellow poll workers truly inspired me as we all worked together to move forward in the name of democracy.”

The California State Legislature adopted a law allowing high school students to serve as poll workers on Election Day in August 1996. The Student Poll Worker Program promotes civic awareness and educates about the election process by involving students to serve as poll workers on Election Day.

Students must be 16 years of age at the time of the election, must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and must have a minimum grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale). The students are paid for the efforts and can also earn class credit or community service hours.


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