By Greg Alder
ContributorMost of them can’t vote, but 70 students from La Jolla High will be working at polls across the county on Nov. 4.
As part of the High School Student Poll Worker program, students age 16 and up are allowed to work at polls in California in order to involve them first-hand in the democratic process.
“They bring a lot of enthusiasm to a poll,” said Tina Hall, coordinator of the High School Student Poll Worker Program at the San Diego Registrar of Voters office.
La Jolla High students began participating in the program last year, but this election has students particularly excited. It’s the same across the county, according to Hall.
“On the day of the deadline alone, we received over 900 applications from students,” she said. More than 3,500 have applied overall. “I get calls from students and parents on a daily basis asking if they’ll be placed and where they can work.”
Doubling upParticipation by high school students has doubled since the program started in 2004. La Jolla Country Day has 12 students who will be working at polls this election. And though La Jolla High has placed 70, it sent in 136 student applications.
Not all who apply get placed because sometimes there are no openings at a precinct near a student’s home. Also, students must have at least a 2.5 grade point average and be recommended by a teacher.
Why do so many students want to get involved? Some teachers will give them extra credit. They also receive a certificate for community service hours.
And, like every poll worker, each student is paid. However, the student’s stipend must be directed into the school’s ASB fund.
Money for classStudents earn $75 for working as a clerk, slightly more for working as a touchscreen inspector, setting up the electronic machines being used for special needs voters and helping those who use them. And if they attend the four-hour training class, they get an additional $20.
Lilly Sedeghat, junior class president at La Jolla High, says the money directed into the ASB fund will be used to help reduce senior fees that go toward things like prom and yearbooks.
This will be the second time Lilly has worked at a poll. Her first election made her more politically aware, she said. Already trained, and placed at a precinct in Del Mar, Lilly said she is more excited this time.
“It’s a presidential election, and there are some really important propositions on the ballot,” she said.