Young people step up for 2020 Election

Poll workers are typically over the age of 61, but this year more young people helped.

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Poll workers are typically over the age of 61, but this year more young people helped.

Regan Carroll, Staff Writer

 Usually, more than two-thirds of election workers are over the age of 61, and less than one-fifth are younger than 41. Due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, however, older volunteers have been hesitant to work at the polls; therefore, younger people are stepping up to volunteer as poll workers.

This year, Samuel Hill, a senior at MSMS, volunteered to work at the polls for Jones County. He shared his pleasant volunteering experience while also explaining the exhausting work.

“I really enjoyed being there. It was super exhausting, and the only time I was sitting down was during the thirty minute period when the number of voters decreased,” Hill said.

A crucial part of structured elections are properly trained poll workers. Poll workers assist by verifying the identities of those who come to vote; assisting voters with signing the register, affidavits or other documents required to cast a ballot; providing ballots and setting up voting equipment and performing other functions as dictated by the legal framework.

Requirements to volunteer as a poll worker differ with each state. For Mississippi, the only requirements are that workers are at least eighteen years of age, entitled to compensation, finished with the required training and are a registered voter for the county. Students in Mississippi who are sixteen or older, a resident of the county and enrolled in high school may also work with a recommendation from a principal. 

With this election being more momentous than almost any other, in recent years, Hill felt that it was his responsibility to help in some way. Hill, a minor, could not exercise the right to vote, so he became a poll worker instead. 

“I wasn’t old enough to vote and this election was extremely important, so I wanted to be a part of the process any way I could,” Hill said.

Other than playing a fundamental role in the democratic process and serving their community, poll workers also receive payment for their work. Though payment ranges by state, volunteers in Mississippi are paid $75 or more based on position. 

Hill expresses his appreciation for volunteers and would love to participate in this process again. Poll workers are a part of maintaining democracy in America, and Hill felt that his experience made him appreciate the selfless acts of individuals in Mississippi and across the nation.  

“I would definitely go and do it again, and my appreciation for the voting process and all those who volunteer their time to help others exercise their right to vote have earned my utmost respect,” Hill said.