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LINCOLN -- High school students will be able to volunteer as poll workers on election day, according to a new law passed by the Arkansas General Assembly.

Jennifer Price, Washington County director of elections, recently promoted the law, Act 328 of 2019, last week during a Thanksgiving banquet hosted by Lincoln Bright Futures. Price was scheduled to speak at the weekly Lincoln Kiwanis Club meeting but the banquet took the place of Kiwanis for the day.

The act amends the law for election pages to allow high school students to be more involved in the election process. Before, Price said, students were very limited on what they could do to help at polling centers on election day.

"We hope to get them engaged and that they become life-long voters," Price said.

Washington County had 380 poll workers for the 2018 election cycle and will need more for 2020 elections, Price said. She noted that about 60 percent of poll workers are 61 years old and older and said she hopes polling places will have workers from multi-generations with the new law.

Student poll workers will not take the place of paid poll workers but will work alongside them to help the election process go smoothly, Price said.

"This will give them the opportunity to see how the voting process works," she added.

Students who volunteer as an election page will be granted an additional excused absence from their school, according to Act 328. Pages will be required to attend a training session and will be required to take an oath of office for election officials. They must observe strict impartiality at all times.

Price said students will be trained to check-in voters, assist voters with instructions on how to use voting machines, monitor the ballot box, assist voters with translation when needed and to perform other duties as needed.

Her plan is to have students signed up by the end of January and to hold one training session for all the pages for the March 3, 2020, primary election. The next election will be Nov. 3, 2020.

Price said a student could call her for more information but the Washington County Election Commission has set up the program so schools can sign up and recommend students to serve as election pages.

A student will not have to serve all hours on election day but could sign up for a shift. Price said one idea is to have a six-hour morning shift and a six-hour afternoon shift.

Students will not be compensated but can use the experience as community hours and volunteer hours, she said.

For more information, call Price at 444-1766 or email her, jprice@co.washington.ar.us.

General News on 11/20/2019

Print Headline: New Law Allows Students To Work Polls

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