Underage students employed at election polls? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/3/09

Underage students employed at election polls?

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - High school students who aren't even allowed to vote yet could be helping you cast your ballot in upcoming elections. 

Right now you must be 18 to be an election worker, but that could soon change. Senator Robert Duncan introduced this bill to the Texas Senate and it passed Thursday by a unanimous vote.  Our local election office couldn't be more thrilled with this possibility.

According to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, the average age of election workers is 72. "Many people work and have other obligations and so normally retired persons help us in that way and it's a very good thing, but I think we need some youth in there," said Duncan.   

Duncan introduced a bill to the Texas Senate which would allow election workers as young as 16. "We have always thought that it is a great idea to be able to help election officials to supply good workers and give our young people an inside look at how the polling process works," said Duncan.   

Duncan says the students would be approved by their principal and there would be certain limitations on how many could be at a polling place. "All the counties from our Texas Elections Administrators Association have been working with the House and Senate to push this through this time," said Lubbock County Elections Administrator Dorothy Kennedy. 

Kennedy says as technology advances, it would be an asset to employ 16 and 17-year-olds who pick up new technology no problem. "We'll have workers who will have technology background with the workers who have election background and we'll put those together and it will be great," said Kennedy.

Duncan agrees and says he sees this as an opportunity to build good citizens. "I would promise you that these students who end up working in these polling places will probably never miss a vote because I think they'll have this engrained in their core that this is an important privilege to exercise in our country," said Duncan.

The next stop for the bill is the Texas House. Duncan says he is hopeful it will pass and young election workers could be ready for November elections throughout the state. Kennedy tells us the pay for the 16 and 17-year-olds would be no different than other workers.

Texas Voter Registration Application
Click here to download the Texas Voter Registration Application from the Secretary of State website. (You will need Adobe Acrobat to open this file)

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