Monday, January 7, 2008

College Students as Poll Workers

Two cheers for Rep. Larry Wolpert (R–Hilliard) and HB 350, a bill to permit college students to serve as poll workers in the communities where they go to school. The bill would allow students at Ohio institutions of higher education to serve as precinct election officials in the county in which they attend school, so long as they are registered to vote in either their home or school county. The bill also would allow up to two high school seniors to serve at a poll where at least six other workers are already in place.

Poll-worker shortages have been problematic for some counties over the past few elections. This legislation would help alleviate that problem as well as encourage young citizens to become involved in the political process. The fact is that people age 18-30 do not vote at the same rate as older adults. While college graduates tend to vote in greater numbers than less educated peers, younger Ohioans still vote about half as often as their elders.

HB 350 will receive its second hearing on Thursday, January 10.

—C. Todd Jones