Too Young To Vote, But Not Too Young to Help Others Cast Ballots

Highland Park Young Progressives Club members volunteer as poll workers on Election Day
Evelyn Altschuler

In the past, Election Day poll workers have traditionally come from an older demographic.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, around 58% were ages 61 or older in the 2018 election.

This year, however, with the symptoms of COVID-19 posing more significant risks for the immunocompromised, including the elderly, polling stations have seen a shortage of volunteers. While many states require volunteers to be at least 18 years of age, Dallas County has opened up applications for students 16 and older, who have been taking the opportunity to volunteer and be involved.

“I first heard about it from my dad, who was also planning to volunteer,” Highland Park High School senior and co-president of the Young Progressives Club Evelyn Altschuler said. “I realized it was in my best interest to sign up, contacted the Young Progressives Club about the opportunity, and a lot of people signed up.”

To volunteer, students had to apply by Sept. 28 with a signed permission slip and take the proper steps with their school principal to obtain an excused absence, if necessary, on Election Day (Many schools, including those HPISD and Dallas ISD scheduled Nov. 3 as a holiday).

“We may not be able to vote, but we should still work to be involved, learn about candidates, and form our own political opinion.”

Evelyn Altschuler

To be selected, potential volunteers were also required to attend both a virtual and in-person training session where they went over the rules of being a poll worker, the different types of ballots, and the various steps needed to complete their job efficiently.

“Basically, we run the show on Election Day,” senior Mira Aravamuthan said. “It’s also been really interesting to learn about how the election process works through hands-on experience.”

Students will be volunteering at various polling stations across Dallas County, performing multiple tasks to ensure the voting process runs smoothly in every aspect.

Mira Aravamuthan

They, along with the other volunteers, are responsible for setting up the booths and taking them down once voting closes. Interacting with voters is another requirement of the position. Volunteers must verify voter registration and answer any potential questions or confusion voters may have, such as how to mark the ballot.

 Most importantly, they also directly handle the ballots by passing them out, collecting them, and inserting them into a tabulator.

“It’s important to help out because it’s our future,” Altschuler said. “We may not be able to vote, but we should still work to be involved, learn about candidates, and form our own political opinions.”

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Shaye Wattson

Shaye Wattson began her senior year at Highland Park High School in August and returned to campus on Sept. 9.

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