For the first time, Nov. 3 is a non-attendance day for ETHS students, providing students with an opportunity to volunteer as election judges without having to worry about missing any class time. In suburban Cook County, any high school student over the age of 16 and a GPA greater than 3.0 can apply to be an election judge.
“I just think that, since this year is such an important election, and with the majority of poll workers being older and at high risk for COVID-19, it is important for the younger generation to step up and fulfill their civic duty to the country during these trying times,” senior Jacob Erhart said.
The process for becoming an election judge in Cook County starts by filling out an application and getting signatures from a parent or guardian and either a school principal or dean. Students that apply and get approved then have to complete online training to learn about the hands-on aspects of working at a polling place on election day.
“I have been so impressed with the number of students who are volunteering to be poll workers; I have been signing forms all summer and the fall!” Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell said. “When Evanston residents go to vote on Nov. 3, ETHS Wildkits will be well represented.”
Working as an election judge gives students the opportunity to learn about voting and see the process up-close and, after having hands-on experience behind the scenes, increases the odds they will vote in the future.
“You understand what goes into voting. You understand what goes into securing ballots. You learn a whole bunch of local election laws that you never would have understood before, and it really peels back the voting process,” civics and APUSH teacher Michael Pond said. “When it is your time to vote, it’s not as confusing. You’ve got the experience, you know what it’s about and what it looks like; you know how it works.”
Across Evanston, there are 26 different polling locations for in-person ballot casting as well as a secure drop-box for mail-in ballots located at the Morton Civic Center. High school student election judges have the potential to be assigned to a precinct polling location in Evanston, or within a different township in suburban Cook County.