Government students work Polls

November 9, 2010 — by Mac Hyde

On election day, Saratoga voters will find some fresh faces assisting them in the great democratic process.

Seniors in teacher Kirk Abe’s government classes are being offered the chance to staff the polls at voting centers around the area on Nov. 2. Not only is this a great way to get newly minted voters interested in voting, but it is a chance for students to see how democracy actually works, Abe said.

“It gives students an opportunity to see what it’s like, first hand, how the system works,” said Abe. “A lot of people don’t know how it works; they think it’s one thing or another, but they realize that actually it’s not as pretty as what people think, but [the voting process] is essential to democracy.”

The students’ duties include checking in and assisting voters. In the past, workers often helped people work the voting machines. In exchange for their time, they will earn $95 for a full day or $47.50 for a half day, plus extra credit in government class. If the students are bilingual, they will be paid an additional $5.

Abe cautions that “a full day is longer than just eight hours. It’s from before they start opening, or helping set up the night before, and they have to be there past closing. [The day is] closer to 12 hours.”

He hopes the students will take away much from this experience and garner “a better understanding of the voting process, realizing how the system works, to see democracy in action in their community.”

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