Some of them may not be old enough to vote themselves, but several area high school seniors spent part of Election Day assisting others in the voting process.
On Tuesday, seniors from a number of Chautauqua County school districts could be seen working at high-traffic poll sites throughout the county at peak times. Students were tasked with helping direct voters to the proper table for processing, as well as consulting maps to inform people of their proper polling sites when necessary.
Jacob Kindberg, a Jamestown High School senior, said he chose to participate in assisting with election night because he has been made aware of its significance within the county.
Jacob Kindberg, a Jamestown High School senior, navigates his poll site location device while assisting voters at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station on Tuesday.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
"My government and economics teacher told me about it originally, and we've been studying the election process," said Jacob, who is the son of former county legislator, Maria Kindberg. "So, when he asked if anybody wanted to help out, I knew I wanted to do it. I think it's pretty interesting, and it's an important thing to do as a citizen. So, I wanted to help out with the process."
According to a press release from Norman Green, Chautauqua County Democratic Committee chairman and Chautauqua County Democratic Election Commissioner, student involvement in Tuesday's elections came about through a partnership between the Chautauqua County Board of Elections and multiple school districts, including Jamestown, Fredonia, Falconer, Frewsburg and Chautauqua Lake.
Students were offered the opportunity to volunteer in four-hour shifts, and those who missed school time to participate received immunity in the form of excused absences. The release said students were supplied with oversized maps and handheld computers containing a software called "AskED" in order to accomplish their tasks.
"Using the students to work our handheld computers with voter information and poll site data stored on each hard drive makes a lot of sense," Green said. "Our youth have amazing thumb movement due to texting, so this is a very easy work assignment. Besides, they are also really friendly and helpful to our mostly older voting population."
Republican Election Commissioner Brian Abram said, in addition to presenting a Board of Elections civic class to area schools with Green, the elections office also travels to all county schools to register new voters.
"We are constantly reaching out to schools to involve students with the voting process," Abram said. "This is our newest effort, and the feedback from voters today is terrific."
This year marked the third year of partnership between the board of elections and county schools, providing students with a valuable firsthand learning experience about local democracy and the voting process. The Chautauqua County Board of Elections is the only board of elections in New York state with such a partnership program, the release said.