Elections for teens can be about so much more than just running for student government.
In September, Texas Secretary of State John Scott encouraged all interested Texans to get involved with the election process at the local level, pointing out how teens could get involved, too.
Being a poll worker “is a great opportunity to witness the election process firsthand, learn about the safeguards that protect the integrity of the ballot box, and spread the word to your friends and family about how they can help administer fair and transparent elections. If you’re a high school student who is at least 16 years old, you can also sign up to be a Student Clerk at Early Voting and Election Day polling places,” said Scott in a press release.
Some seniors from Trinity Christian Academy (TCA) in Addison heard about Scott’s message and decided to take their AP Government lesson out of the classroom. The students volunteered at the Carrollton Public Library, a local polling place, in order to get first-hand experience in the voting process.
Every year, their teacher, Diane Harmon, has encouraged seniors to volunteer and train to work at a polling place as part of their class final. Former students have expressed that they never forgot the day they volunteered at the polls.
“I think it’s a blessing we get to be here and be a part of the voting process and kind of watch it all happen,” TCA senior Emma Edmundson said.
“It’s a great experience because normally we’re in the classroom learning about the process but it’s great to be out there and see what it’s like,” said Kyle Causey, another TCA senior.
Harmon noted the significance of incorporating youth into the voting and election processes. “They’re the ones that are gonna be making the decisions for us,” Harmon said. “The one thing I have understood is that if you’re uninformed, then you’re led by people. I want these kids to lead.”
According to a 2018 Pew Research poll from the last midterm elections, 58% of poll workers were 61 years old or older. The study found that of that group, about 27% were over the age of 71. People 25 years old and younger made up just 7.8% of the poll workers nationwide.
“That’s like a whole generation that does that,” TCA senior and first-time poll worker Owen Hattendorf said. “If our generation will now start to do that, you’ll see other people, young adults, starting to vote and that’s just what we need.”
Some of the volunteering students could also cast their ballots for the very first time. “I’m ready to just, like have a voice, and to be part of the decision-making,” said Jade Ellis, first-time voter and TCA Academy senior.