HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– As the November election gets closer, the state of Virginia is seeing a shortage of poll workers. And two local counties offer a solution that includes getting teenagers to the polls.
“Our students… are able to view firsthand what democracy is like and to see what it’s like to be a poll worker,” explained Henrico County Deputy Registrar Anne Marie Middlesworth when discussing the county’s Student Election Page Program.
Henrico and Chesterfield counties have page programs for teenagers. In Henrico, the program is offered to students 16 to 18 years old. In Chesterfield, the program is designed for teenagers over the age of 18.
Middlesworth says this program gives future voters a way to participate on Election Day, and voters enjoy seeing the teenagers getting involved.
“They don’t realize how much of a help they are to our officers of election. They are an extra set of legs and eyes that help us with curbside voters,” expressed Middlesworth. “They helped work the line and just keep voters in line informed that we’re trying to move them through and have their identification available.”
She also says the teenagers will give poll workers an extra pep in their step.
“We might have a need for extra help with enthusiasm for this election. We’ve seen it with our early voting here at the office, but we’re not counting out Election Day,”
And with the effects that COVID-19 may have on the polls and poll workers, the page program could be a helpful solution.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press conference in September that we have to do something in order to ensure Americans have their most basic right to vote.
“Many poll workers are elderly, so they are high risk of COVID-19. We need to make up that shortfall with people who aren’t considered as high risk to keep polling places open and operating smoothly,” explained the governor.
Northam also said that the spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth is “moderately contained.”
Learn more about student page programs:
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