Q&A with students working the polls in honor of Election Day

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Submitted Photo: Erin Gordon

Juniors Lisa Venckus (left) and Erin Gordon (right) pose for photo while holding ‘Fady for Indiana’ brochures. Venckus said that “it’s really important that people are able to speak up and make their thoughts heard on (whichever) side they stand”.

Wendy Zhu, HiLite Print Management

Erin Gordon, junior

How did you first get involved with the election and working the polls?

I’m in CHS Young Democrats, so I’ve been really active, especially with this election since it’s so monumental. I really just got connected, especially with that, and then hearing things from friends. And I’ve also been doing some campaigning for other candidates, so…it really helped me get active in the political community. I was really interested in just helping out with this monumental election.

Was there anything specific that made you want to become a poll worker?

I was just kind of interested in the idea to begin with. A lot of my friends had already signed up, and I didn’t really know a lot about it at first, but as soon as I learned more about it, and especially (with) the pressure of how big this election year is going to be, I just really felt like I wanted to be a part of it.

How did you train to be a poll worker?

Of all of the elections, I think it’s really important to be involved in this one just because it’s so monumental to decide the future of our country and with that, our world.

Lisa Venckus, junior

How did you first get involved with the election and working the polls?

I first got involved (when) I joined Young Democrats this year, and so they gave us the email and provided all the information we needed if we wanted to work the polls, so I just sent an email there and got the forms and stuff.

What made you want to become a poll worker?

Really, I just wanted to be more involved in the election and the process. Obviously, I can’t vote this year, and I know that’s frustrating for a lot of juniors and seniors who aren’t old enough to vote yet, so working the polls was just another way I could get involved in helping with the process even if I can’t vote. 

Can you describe what you do as a poll worker?

I’m going to be a clerk. I’m the person that sits at the front, and when people come in, they give me their ID, and I basically sign them in, confirm all their information and make sure that’s correct. And then I’ll give them a ticket that they can bring up to the judges, who will basically set up the machine and help them actually cast their ballot. 

Do you have any thoughts on this year’s election?

This year’s election, I’d say, is very important. There’s just obviously a lot of unrest in our country right now, and there’s just a lot of division happening, so I think it’s really important that people are able to speak up and make their thoughts heard on (whichever) side they stand.

Juniors Ethan Stoehr (left) and Clizia Martini (right) post in front of polling station. Martini said that “something that you should learn as a society, (which) is not to always follow your friends, or to follow your family, and to make your own independent views” (Submitted Photo: Ethan Stoehr)

Ethan Stoehr, junior

How did you first get involved with the election and working the polls?

I did it in the primaries because they wanted younger people to be poll workers since the pandemic was and still is targeting older people specifically. They had put out something, and my mom told me about it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure. I’ve got nothing else to do over the summer,’ so that’s why I got started specifically in the elections. 

Was there anything specific that made you want to become a poll worker?

At that point, I’d been interested in politics already, so I found it interesting, for one. You (also) get paid. When I did it in the primary (election), I felt this way as well, but now especially, I just really want people to vote, so I want to be out there and help people and try to make sure everything goes smoothly and do as much as I can to increase (the number of) people who actually vote at the polls. 

Can you describe what you do as a poll worker?

There’s two positions, and they’re all pretty simple actually. The clerk, they basically just sit at a table the whole day, and they have an iPad and ask you for your license—or any photo ID actually—and then they’ll input the information on that by scanning it. They ask you a couple questions and have you sign and confirm some stuff, and then they print out a little receipt. They put all this information on this gray card and they give it to you, and then you’ll take it back to one of the judges, who will input that stuff into the (voting) machine. 

Do you have any thoughts on this year’s election or thoughts for voters in general?

It’s going to be crazy this year. There’s going to be super high voter turnout, super long lines, which is a good thing and a bad thing because obviously it means more people are voting, but at the same time, there shouldn’t be long lines. I really hope that all the ballots can actually get counted because you can’t really say that you have a mandate to govern from the people without actually taking into account what the people want. So counting every ballot, not throwing out every ballot—I just really hope that they do that. I can’t really make much of a difference in terms of that, but I can at least ensure that people can get their votes in. It’s up to the election board and the state to deal with it from there.

Clizia Martini, junior

How did you first get involved with the election and working the polls?

 I’m friends with the president of the Carmel Dems Club here at Carmel High School. I then met the chairman of the Indiana High School Democrats, and we would just go around, do lit drops, and then I would do phone banking. Originally, my friend was like, ‘Do you want to be a poll worker?’ in the summer, and it was too late for me to do the primaries, but then I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll be a poll worker.’ So then I tried doing Election Day, but it was all full, which is really good. That was like, end of August, but before that, I’d even tried doing early polling. This friend told me who to email and such, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do this; I want to get in touch.’

How much work did you do as a poll worker?

I did four days of working. I couldn’t work election day. So I worked, I would probably say, six hours and a half on average because you want to get there early to set up everything, and then afterwards, the lines officially close at the end times, like three or seven for us, and that means as long as you’re in line, you can vote. And then afterwards, you also have to make sure that everything is tallied up correctly. We have two machines, one where you get checked in and then the ones that you actually vote on, and we make sure that those numbers are similar, that they’re close enough. And then especially on the last day, you have to pack everything up, so I would say I probably finished around 7:45 or 3:45 most days.

How was that experience as a poll worker for you?

I would say it was really positive.  It’s nice to see people because I’d always meet different people where it’s their first time voting, either because they just turned 18 or something like that, or just people who had finally become U.S. citizens. You could see how happy they were there, and then people would bring their kids, and they would have future voter stickers, and they would be really excited. So it was really nice, and I really enjoyed it.

Do you have any thoughts on this year’s election or any thoughts for voters?

I think this year, it’s a lot more high stakes. Both of my parents were immigrants, but they’re both European—they’re both white. So I would say for them, the stakes aren’t as high. I think now the major issue is the human rights talk. And so I think talking about Black Lives Matter, people of color and then also LGBTQ rights, abortion and such, I think you can see that becoming a lot more discussed now compared to the 2016 election.  I also think beforehand, we didn’t know what Trump was going to be like in office. These were two brand new candidates. Now we have the Trump and anti-Trump (groups), and also we’ve seen a lot about ‘Settle For Biden.’ I would say now you have a vice president, and then you have the current president who’s going up for reelection. I think now we’ve seen both of them in office, and so we’re concerned about that. And I think people are also getting more sectionalized.

Sage Mehta, junior

Submitted Photo: Sage Mehta
How did you first get involved with the election and working the polls?

I got involved through some friends. They kind of were just throwing out, ‘This is an option to be a poll worker,’ and then I saw it on representatives’ pages that it was a good way to get involved. I’ve always been pretty involved in politics, so I thought it was a good idea to sign up.

Can you describe what you do as a poll worker?

Basically, I help people with the voting, so I tell them how to work the machine, like what they need to do, and I try to keep order and keep people spaced out and clean things up because of COVID and try to get that process of people voting to go as smoothly as possible.

How did you train to be a poll worker?

I had to do some things online where I had to read a manual and fill out a couple forms, things like that for online training. And then in-person, I had to go in a few days just for a couple hours to see how to work the machines and what I need to tell people. 

Do you have any thoughts on this year’s election or thoughts for voters in general?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think this year’s election is going to be monumental in the sense of the outcome but also different in how we get the outcome, and I don’t even think we will get the election results on election day. I think it’ll probably take a few days with all the mail-in ballots, so I think (I’ll be) waiting to see how the candidates react and then how the polls are showing, in combination with the thought that we might not get the results (tonight).

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