Teen Helpers Needed On Election Day

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MyVeronaNJ-School-Budget-Vote-ThumbIf you are 16 or 17, you can’t vote in the coming presidential election, but you can help out on election day thanks to a new initiative by Verona’s municipal clerk.

Jennifer Kiernan wants teens to know that a new law in New Jersey allows 16- and 17-year-old high school students to serve as greeters in polling places on Election Day or be trained to serve as election board workers.

“Part of the historic mission of public education has been to teach students the importance of their identity as citizens of the United States of America, including the rights and responsibilities that come with living in a democracy,” Kiernan wrote in a letter distributed to public school parents on Friday. “Voting is both a fundamental right and a primary responsibility of citizenship, and is part of the system of checks and balances in our government that guarantee both our liberty and our security and more importantly, our citizenship. Unfortunately, voter turnout levels in the U.S. are continuing to decline, with young people the least likely to vote on Election Day.”

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There are two ways for teens to help. One is to become an election board worker, the group of people who run the polling places on Election Day. They help voters to sign in table, collect the voting authority tickets before voters enter the voting booth and generally assist with any aspect of the voting process. The other way is to become a student greeter, welcoming voters as they arrive at the polling places.

If you want to be an election board worker you’ve got to act quickly because there’s a mandatory two-hour training session. Student greeters need no training but both they and any student poll worker must get permission from their school, as well as from their parent or guardian. (The forms you need are on page 2 and 3 here).

Students can serve in one of two half-day shifts, either 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., or 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be paid $100 for their efforts. Students also must arrange their own transportation to and from the polling places, which are located in Verona’s schools and at the Claridge II condominium.

If you have more questions about all this, call Kiernan at her office in Town Hall, which is 973-239-3220.

“A student serving at the polls becomes engaged in the election process,” says Kiernan, “while developing an understanding of the importance of participation in the political process.”

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