Elections board seeks young faces at polls|Erie County wants to recruit senior government students to work at polls beginning with 2008 primaries

PERKINS TWP. The Erie County Election Board plans to recruit dozens of area high school seniors to help run the election effo
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

The Erie County Election Board plans to recruit dozens of area high school seniors to help run the election effort during the March 2008 primary.

Jennifer Ferback, deputy director of the election board, said she has a list of all of the school principals and superintendents in Erie County.

She said she'll be phoning them during the next few days to ask permission to recruit high school seniors in government classes who might be interested.

The work would provide students an inside look at how democracy works while also relieving the election board's manpower needs.

"If we can make this work, it's a win-win," said Chris Marinko, election board chairman.

The board hopes to take advantage of a new state law that allows election boards to recruit teens.

Franklin County has been using teens for elections and officials there have received "nothing but positive comments about this," she said.

It's too late to hire teens for November, but they'll be asked to assist with the critical March 4 primary, Ferback said. That's when Ohio Democrats and Republicans will be voting on their party's nominees for president, as well as picking nominees for a host of other offices.

Quite a few regular election workers are expected to still be "down South" in warmer climes in early March, so the teens' help will be welcome, Ferback said.

Ferback said Erie County has 62 precincts. On each election day, each of the 62 voting areas is manned by a four-person crew, two Democrats and two Republicans. Each teen recruit will be asked to declare a political affiliation, so he or she can maintain the political party balance.

Teens can't serve as the precinct judge -- the person who is in charge at each precinct -- but they can serve in any of the other three positions: signature judge, clerk and ballot judge.

Teens will be paid $100 -- $95 for a day's work, and $5 for the necessary training, Ferback said.

"For most, that's going to be quite an incentive," she said.

In addition, the teens can use the work as community service hours, she said.

"A lot of the high schools require service," pointed Amy Grubbe, a member of the election board.

Along with their training, the new government workers will be coached on how to represent the election board when they serve the public, Ferback said.

"Of course, we will discuss their attire, what to wear that day," she said.