Civic Engagement and Technology: Recruiting College Student Poll Workers
This paper asks the question: what type of student works the polls on Election Day? Recruiting competent and available poll workers has become an issue of national concern as both national and state-level policy changes mandate that electronic voting systems be in place and available to voters. College campuses are fertile ground for recruiting poll workers who are comfortable with high technology voting systems and who are encouraged to participated in extracurricular and co-curricular civic engagement activities. The push to recruit college student poll workers is reinforced by current poll worker characteristics. First and foremost, the average age of poll workers nationally is 72. Second, and related, college students are, as a group, more technologically savvy than are older generations. Students who work the polls may continue doing so for the next several decades. This means that recruiting younger poll workers will address short and long term election-related needs.
In this paper, the authors propose to better predict the type of student that is likely to get involved in this type of civic engagement activity based on recruited students who worked the polls in November 2006. In discerning the type of student likely to work the polls on Election Day, future recruitment efforts will be enhanced. For example, targeting efforts might be redirected should we find that students enrolled in particular majors are more likely than others to work the polls (recruitment took place campus-wide). We may also find that students who had classes scheduled on Election Day were less likely to work compared with those who did have classes scheduled on Election Day. Such a result would speak to a concern about retaining Tuesday as the national Election Day in light of current and emerging poll worker needs.
Keywords: Civic Engagement, Technology, Youth
Dr. Terri Susan Fine
Professor, Political Science, University of Central Florida
Dr. Aubrey Jewett
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Central Florida