N.C. Precinct Judge Wants Student Poll Workers

Young, first-time voters are a regular flashpoint in a presidential campaign. Because many of these voters (ranging in age from 18-22) have never voted in the past, candidates attempt to capture their uncommitted loyalty as a possible pathway to victory.

Carol Hazard, a precinct judge in Chapel Hill, N.C., sees a lot of these young voters in her precinct polling place in the Center for Dramatic Art on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By her estimates, 95-percent of voters in her precinct are students.

But Hazard — who first cast a presidential ballot in the 1964 election between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater — thinks young, college-aged students need to do more than just vote.

“I’d love to see more student participation, get some real experience at this desk,” Hazard said while working in the Laurel Hill precinct during the state’s May presidential primary.

“Nobody knows where they live, nor do they know their precincts. Students need to know where they vote. If you change one dorm to another, at the beginning of the year, you don’t think about it.”

Hazard is in her second year of work as a precinct judge in Orange County. She said that she thinks the active political groups on the campus of the University of North Carolina should do more than just encourage their members to vote. Instead, she said that she’d like to see a representative group of student poll workers.

“I don’t care if you’re a Young Republican, a Young Democrat, a young unaffiliated voter,” Hazard said. “You should be on this side of the desk.”

By Nick Andersen, News21

Technology — worth the upfront cost?

Election officials walk a fine line when they implement new technology for an upcoming election. They must decide if new devices are worth the cost, ensure poll workers are adequately trained and determine if voters will find the equipment easy to use.

Electronic poll book, a digital check-in system, is being used in 27 states and the District of Columbia to shorten polling place lines and speed up the process. Using a computer or tablet, poll workers can easily search for a voter’s name, which is faster than flipping through paper voter rolls.

Minnetonka, Minn., has been a pilot city for new technology. It was the first in the state to try optical scan machines and first used electronic poll books in 2009, still the only city in the state to use poll books.

City Clerk David Maeda said other election officials see the cost as too great to buy laptops and software for an electronic poll book.

“A lot of people look at the upfront costs and say you can’t spend the money, but you have to look long term,” he said. “I’ve done return investment work. It shows it pays itself off in a matter of years. I think it’s inevitable to use this technology statewide.”

By Alia Conley, News21