Contact: AJ Freeney-Ruiz
Contact: Jen Fanger
Indianapolis, IN - Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita is taking steps on multiple fronts to support counties' poll worker recruitment efforts for the November 7th General Election. Three key programs targeting state employees, college and high school students are aimed at putting new faces behind poll clerk tables and promoting civic engagement.
Rokita's plan targets Hoosier government employees for whom Election Day is a paid holiday. All 65,000 state employees will soon receive a letter from Rokita inviting them to serve as poll workers on their day off.
"It takes an army of at least 30,000 volunteers to run a statewide election," Rokita said. "Encouraging state employees to serve as poll workers is a common-sense approach to election administration. We have a huge pool of dedicated public servants, and many of them have simply never been asked to participate in the process this way."
Hoosier Scholars Helping Democracy is a new student program, developed in partnership with the American Democracy Project at IUPUI and the Indiana Campus Compact. This initiative - the first of its kind in any state - seeks to recruit college students to serve as poll workers in their counties of residence.
"Our greatest generation has shouldered the burden of civic responsibility alone for too many years, and on behalf of the state we are thankful for their continued leadership," Rokita said. "It is time for our youth to step up and share in this duty."
Indiana's 16 & 17-year-old poll worker program is an option county election boards may choose to adopt for any election cycle. For high school students meeting age and academic requirements, the program offers an opportunity to learn about the electoral process firsthand by helping poll workers carry out Election Day duties. Rokita has encouraged county clerks, election boards, and student groups statewide to utilize the program as a resource when staffing precincts.
"These student programs are key to building a healthy base of poll workers throughout Indiana to help administer our election," Rokita said. "Young Hoosiers are willing and able to assist in this endeavor, and for many, this experience is enough to spark a lifetime of civic engagement."
In addition to increased recruiting efforts, Rokita's office developed Indiana's first statewide poll worker training curriculum for use in both the 2006 Primary and General Elections. Counties are ultimately responsible for training poll workers; however, implementing a comprehensive training program was cost-prohibitive for many Indiana counties. Rokita's program provides counties with resources, including printed materials, training videos, slide presentations, as well as train-the-trainer conferences offered statewide to help county officials educate their own poll workers.
College students interested in becoming a poll worker should visit the Secretary of State's website at www.state.in.us/sos/elections/college_poll.html.
High School students interested in the 16 & 17-year-old poll worker program should click here.
All others interested in becoming a poll worker should click here.