Students Trained to Work the Polls

Training as an election inspector inspired Comstock Park senior Donavin Perrin to register to vote, and he plans to cast a ballot Nov. 4.

“I don’t know if I would have otherwise. Probably not,” he said. “I now know what to do.”

Perrin and 22 other Comstock Park High School students recently learned there’s a lot to learn when working at the polls: rules cover where to stand, how to handle the ballot, and who can assist a voter with a problem once they enter the ballot box.

They’ll soon test their knowledge on Election Day when they help voters through the process of exercising their civic duty. Fourteen students will work the election and an additional nine have been trained as back-up workers.

“I didn’t realize all the laws that are involved in the election process,” said senior Shiloh Glibert. “It’s crazy.”

The AP government students received official training by Plainfield Township Clerk Ruth Ann Karnes to work at precincts while voters go through every step from filling out information to receiving their “I Voted!” stickers. Students will work in two different shifts, getting paid $9.30 per hour.

Comstock Park High School’s AP Government class covers the election process

Many students aren’t yet old enough to vote, with 16 the minimum age to be an inspector. But they said they are now less intimidated about voting in the future.

“I thought it would be an interesting experience to learn new skills and help the community,” said junior Mark Razmus.

“I wanted to have the chance to see what elections are like– the whole process,” Shiloh said.

Karnes said working an election offers students a “whole new world of experiences for them on every level.”

“This is a great opportunity for students and I’m tickled pink that they want to do it,” she said.

Principal Steve Gough said he saw the opportunity as a way to interest future voters.

“One of the goals of our social studies and government curriculum is to promote civic engagement among our students with the hope that they become active and involved citizens not only in the voting process but in community volunteering and in just being engaged. It’s a neat opportunity to give them a real-life hands on experience that will hopefully draw their interest, he said.

AP Government teacher Maggie Parrish agreed.

“Anytime you can bring the classroom curriculum into real life to see how it really works, Ithink is unbelievably outstanding. It’s one thing to learn about or even talk about these thing, but to actually experience it is pretty cool and it makes everything sink in a bit more,” she said. “They’ll want to be educated voters. I really want to push my students to be educated and active citizens.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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