Since 2006, the Warren County Board of Election’s Youth in the Booth program has aimed to help high school seniors gain a better understanding of the election process with a unique behind-the-scenes look at electoral activity.
With Mason being the only high school in the county yet to get involved with the program, Senior Leah Metzger thinks that it is important for students to have an understanding of how the system works.
“We’re growing up and we’re eventually going to be that next generation voting,” Metzger said. “I think it’s really important for youth to get out and have a say in who our next president is going to be, in any election.”
According to Warren County election administrator Dee Hudson, the program has some eligibility requirements.
“Students need to be in good standing with their school and also be able to represent their school and Warren County Board of Elections well to the public,” Hudson said. “They must be a resident of Warren County and a United States citizen, a high school senior, have their own transportation, willing to commit to an all day assignment anywhere in the county and also to be able to attend a 3 hour training class.”
According to Metzger, Mason seniors will represent the school and assist in processing voters.
“Because I’m a Mason student, they’ll put me in a Mason facility,” Metzger said. “That way, we can see people we know come in. We’ll have an iPad for people to type their name in and register to vote, and pass out the little ‘I Voted’ stickers, etcetera.”
Students involved with the program have much to gain. Aside from the $136.50 earned for the day or credit received for fourteen or more service hours, seniors benefit from a learning experience that benefits seniors when it comes to college applications.
“There will always be a need for the brightest and the best to step forward and make a difference,” Hudson said. “The program is beneficial to high school seniors because it demonstrates community service and helps them to present to colleges as a well rounded applicant for continuing education or in the private sector as a job experience that involves leadership.”
Mason’s first steps will be with the upcoming primary and presidential elections. The Board hopes to build a new generation of poll workers by including a vital part of our community, the youth. Voters are likely to see an influx of younger voters participating in a reformed election experience. Hudson said this will also be a good way for seniors to get exposed to the ins and outs of democracy.
“The Youth in the Booth program allows students a front row seat in a democracy that is known worldwide as progressive and inclusive to all.” Hudson said. “ ‘We the people’ includes the youth who will someday change the lives of many.”