Program Allows Washington County High School Students To Staff Election Precincts

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Washington County voters can expect to see a large number of newly eligible voters working the polls this November, thanks to a program directed at getting young people more involved with the voting process.

“Youth at the booth" is a program initiated by former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that allows high school students to staff official voting precincts.

The Washington County board of elections requested seven volunteers from each of the county's seven high schools, and received nearly 40 volunteers as a result.

"The student volunteers are treated as any other polling place employee with tasks such as marking ballots and ensuring the machines are reading them properly. The hope is to keep voting a part of their lives for years to come," said Peggy Byers, director of the Washington County board of elections. 

Each young volunteer has a different reason for participating in this training program.

"I'm volunteering because I would like to make a political difference in my community," said Christopher Morrow, a student at Marietta High School. "We had a levy a few years back that I would really like to have seen pass. Maybe now I can get my peers to realize we really can make a difference."

Byers said she hopes this experience will remain popular among future generations.

"We're hearing from other students [that] they're promoting it to the next year's classes and we get quite a bit of interest," she said. "I'd love it if they'd come back some day as candidates if they get enough interest. We need good people."

Byers said the Washington County students will be split into groups on election day and will receive their assignments from their team leader.