Young Poll Workers Learning the Ropes
About 60 teens spent Tuesday helping people vote around Charleston County
For the past several elections teenage poll workers have been helping the residents of Charleston County cast ballots.
Brittany Hutson and Solomon Moyd, both 17, spent Tuesday at Stono Park Elementary School helping voters check in and they will be closing down the computers used to keep track of voters at the polling location tonight.
"They are phenomenal," Ken Dillks, the precinct clerk at Stono Park Elementary, said about his experience working with teens at the polls. "For the last election I had one and for the one last November I had three."
"They are so good that when I gave out the assignments for today for closing, these kids will be closing out the computers by themselves," Dilks said of Hutson and Moyd.
Tuesday was Moyd's third time as a poll manager and the first time Hutson has worked as a poll manager.
"I wanted to do it for experience and to see how the voting process is done," Moyd said.
"I did it for the experience and for future reference," Hutson said. "It also looks good on college applications."
Moyd was able to complete the poll manager training at his school, Garrett Academy, when the Charleston County Board of Elections and Registration staff held a training program there earlier this year. Hutson, a student at Charleston Charter School for Math and Science attended the training sessions at the BEVR headquarters in North Charleston.
"We've gone into a lot of the schools," said Pam McArthur, who runs the poll manager program for high school students. "They get the same training, the same pay and the same opportunities to do all the jobs at the polls as the adults."
Poll managers are paid $120 for their work on election day.
The program sees 80-90 applications from high school students aged 16-18 each year, McAthur said, but as many as 30 will drop out of the program prior to election day. Ideally, she added, the county would like to have at least two teen workers per polling location, or approximately 200 teen poll managers per election.
"We're always looking for more because they are technologically smart and they they are full of energy," McArthur said. "The earlier they start with us the more likely we are to hang on to them as they hit the voting age."
McArthur added that the county lets the teen workers choose their location in an effort to keep them as close to their homes as possible for convenience.
During his stints as a poll manager, Solomon said he has learned a lot about how to interact with people from varying backgrounds in addition to learning how the voting process works both physically and technologically. He will also be 18 prior to the general election in November and plans to cast his first official vote then.
Hutson will miss the age cut-off by less than two weeks though. Both said they plan to continue working as poll managers, though neither is active in politics at the moment.
"This is extremely new for me," Hutson said. "My family watches the news all the time so I pick up on some issues from time to time, but I've never really followed politics before."
Dilks said he looks forward to working with more teens in future elections and has only one complaint about the program.
"The only criticism I have is that [teens] don't have enough work experience to know they're doing a good job," he said. "They keep asking me, 'am I doing a good job, am I doing a good job?'"
Anyone interested in applying to be a poll manager can download an application form from the BEVR website under the Poll Manager's Corner link. Teens must be at least 16 years old to apply.