BY SABRINA HUANG
Over a dozen UHS students worked at poll centers across Irvine as student poll workers on Election Day. Students had to be 16 years or older to work.
According to some students, working as a poll worker provided a unique opportunity to learn about the voting process that was never given before. “I decided to volunteer as a poll worker because I love politics and participating in the democracy of our country,” Raina Zhao (Jr.) said. “Prior to the experience, I didn’t know a lot about the exact procedures of voting, so I wanted to use [poll working] as a learning experience.”
Others were curious about how the process worked. “[I worked as a poll worker because] I wanted to know what the voting process would look like [and] how the voting process would prevent voter fraud,” Dillon Sun (Sr.) said.
As poll workers, students were responsible for setting up polling booths and helping voters if they needed any form of assistance in the voting process. “The whole point of a poll worker is to regulate and facilitate the voting process,” Sonia Kelly (Jr.) said. “So, while working, I tried to help as many people as I could.”
The ballot included not only national and state elections but also local elections for mayor, city council and the Irvine School Board.
Students were positioned at various poll stations across Irvine where they worked from 6 in the morning to 9:30 at night. Poll stations included fire stations, schools and community centers scattered throughout different neighborhoods of the city.
For many students, working at poll centers was a valuable experience because it allowed students who are not old enough to vote to have some sort of role in the electoral process.
“[Being a poll worker] gave me a sense of pride knowing that I was helping people have their voices heard or how they would like to see their country ran,” Michael Kurdahi (Sr.) said.
“I think it was a really valuable experience to know first-hand the work that goes into ensuring that everyone is able to have his or her voice heard,” Kelly said. “Parents brought their children to vote for the first time, and some people brought their parents to vote for the first time. It was [also] really inspiring to see all these people get so excited about voicing their opinions.”
For other students, volunteering as a poll worker allowed them to learn things they did not know beforehand.
“I learned that many people don’t understand the voting registration process and many people do not vote,” Sun said. “Each page of our voter roster had about 15 names, yet only about four people on each page would actually show up to vote.”
“I learned how to use different equipment, troubleshoot problems and instruct people more confidently than before,” Kurdahi said. “I was also glad to learn the care the OC registrar of voters puts into ensuring a smooth voting process for all its residents through a good amount of training for its poll workers.”
To become a poll worker, students had to fill out paperwork from the Orange County Registrar of Voters’s website a few weeks before the election. Once the paperwork was filled in and completed, students attended a compulsory training session the week before Election Day to learn about the process of being a poll worker.
Students will be compensated with $120 for working the whole day and attending the training session.