A special effort is underway to recruit and train younger poll managers from the state’s colleges and universities. Brady Quirk-Garvin, program coordinator for the SC Young Voters Initiative hopes to recruit 300 college students to work with the 18,000 poll workers for the June 8 primaries and the Nov. 2 General Election.
We wanted to see an increase of the number of youth involved in the political process, and on the deeper level than just voting. We wanted to see be them involved in working on the polls and being involved in the electoral process.
According to Quirk-Garvin young people represent the fastest-growing segment of the voting population and want to serve.
Numbers show that the bulk of people working at the polls are typically older, and so what we’re trying to do is train that next generation to come in and try and fill their shoes, basically.
Quirk-Garvin says that the younger poll workers tend to be more receptive to working with newer election technologies.
We knew that there was a problem just from anecdotal stories of going to the polls and seeing who was there and who wasn’t there. And as we looked at deeper research, we realized that this really was a problem. And also, on another level, as SC moves towards more electronic voting machines, we realized it’s really important to have this younger generation that’s a little more tech savy and a little more comfortable using the new electronic voting machines.
Quirk-Garvin says that poll managers are paid $60 for each day of training or working. Training usually takes about three hours.
Everyone who works at the polls gets pay day -a stipend – from the state. That’s certainly one of the things we talk to the students about when we go out and try and do recruitment.
State law allows young people as young as age 16 to be employed and are paid as poll managers. Brady Quirk-Garvin, Program Coordinator for the SC Young Voters:
You can be as young as 16 and be a poll manager in the state of South Carolina. So, even before you’re allowed to vote, you can be involved in this process. I think what’s great not only is this a good way for college students to earn some extra money, but it’s a great way to put something sort of non-traditional on their resume.
Garvin says that they currently have about 100 students statewide that are ready for the June primaries, and over the summer they will work to try and find the other 200.
And I think our long-term goal out of this, it really is the next generation is ready to step up and be involved in the election process. Our goal is that this will grow into something larger, and we’ll see more and more younger individuals stepping up and becoming involved.
The number of young voters in South Carolina doubled between 2004 and 2008 and by 2012 that number is likely to double.