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Too young to vote, but still part of the process

By Jerusalem Nerayo

As millennials get out to vote in low numbers, efforts are being made on the part of the Alameda community to get their youth involved in the election process. A few Alameda High students above the age of 16 took the opportunity to work the polls in November.

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Tiffany Chen worked at a polling place this campaign season. Photos by Aleeza Zinn

Some of the student poll workers have derived their inspiration to work the polls from their school curriculums. Senior Tiffany Chen said, “I’m taking gov this year and I wanted to learn more about how elections in general work and participate in it.”

The poll working process gave students the chance to look at the voting process from a different perspective. Chen says poll working allowed her to “get a more complete sense of that whole process.”

She, along with other student poll workers, have contrasted their positive outlook towards the polling process with the mandatory training process beforehand. Chen said, “if they had us look through that [the training packet] independently that would have been a better use of our time.”

With increasing access to media through various forms of technology, Chen believes students are more inclined to become politically active. “I feel like it is easier to be educated about issues that matter, but for some reason turnout is pretty low.”

Gloria Fung also worked at the polls.
Gloria Fung also worked at the polls.

Senior Gloria Fung described her day as a poll worker. “I get there at six, I set up, and then we sort of just wait for people to come.” Fung said it was not as hectic as she expected it to be.

And everyone has a specific job. “[There’s] the person who checks the name, and the person who gives them the ballot, and the person who helps them scan their ballot,” Fung said.

Fung, who has also worked at polls for the primaries, believes she’ll find differences in working the polls for the general election. As a bilingual translator, Fung says, “This time I do think there will be more people [for language assistance] since it’s the general elections.”

Sean Kwok experienced working at the polls as well.
Sean Kwok experienced working at the polls as well.

And Fung believes the information voters receive prior to the election determines how they choose to view the voting process. “I feel like generally people who aren’t informed about things will see it as a chore and so they don’t really want to go to the polling place.”

Sean Kwok, also a senior, uses poll working to participate in the election process until the time comes when he’s able to vote. For now, he says, “I’m not unhappy because I know it’s the law.”

If these students agree on one thing, it’s that millennials need to increase their turnout rates. As Sean said, “They just need to know that their vote matters.”

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