Students to participate in election process

Voter+turnout+in+San+Mateo+County+is+expected+to+lead+California%2C+with+90%25+of+registered+voters+planning+to+vote.

Mattingly Germack

Voter turnout in San Mateo County is expected to lead California, with 90% of registered voters planning to vote.

Mattingly Germack, Staff Reporter

The 2020 presidential election is shaping up to be one of the most influential elections in American history, and many high school students who are not yet of age to vote have been looking for ways to participate in the democratic system.  

 

Students who reside in San Mateo County are able to work at polling places on Election Day, regardless of their voting eligibility. The county’s Student Democracy Program offers them a unique opportunity to make sure the biannual federal election process functions safely and properly.

In September, schools contacted students about a possibility to take part in this program. Anyone over the age of 16 who maintains a 2.5 GPA or higher was eligible to sign up.

Many students who signed up were intrigued by the opportunity to experience something as important as an election up close and personal.

 

“I wanted to be more involved with this election, because this is the first year that I can vote, and I felt like working at the polls would be good first hand experience,” senior Praxedis Ramirez said.

 

Program participants are not just being rewarded with life experience. Students earn $280 for their 15 hour shift on election day, as well as an additional $150 per optional 10 hour weekend shift, of which there are two.

As voting on Election Day is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts and procedures that must be followed, a two to three hour in-person training session is mandatory for those who plan on working at a poll. 

 

“We learned rules about what we can and can’t talk about or wear, and learned the roles we’ll play at the polls, like managing lines and sanitizing machines,” junior Elisenne Yun, who attended the training, said.

This election is set to yield an unprecedented voter turnout, and nowhere is this as prevalent as it is in San Mateo County. Up to 90% of registered voters are expected to vote, breaking its previous record of 81% set in 2016. High schoolers are rising to the occasion in response to this, as the Student Democracy Program has its highest number of participants in its 20 year history. Volunteers countywide are making sure the voting process carries on without a hitch.