Spain Park students to have hand in election

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Instead of just paying attention to next Tuesday’s presidential election, some Spain Park students are taking the chance to be part of the election process.

Ten seniors will work at Shelby County polls, assisting voters, collecting ballots and ensuring the process goes as smoothly as possible.

“I’ve always been interested in the whole political process,” said senior James Morris. “Being a poll watcher will give me the opportunity to see what I can and be involved in the whole political process.”

Cheryl Morrow, the AP government teacher, helped get those seniors a front-row seat to democracy.

She had heard about how students at other schools had worked elections, but it wasn’t until she found out Sid Browning, election supervisor for Jefferson County, was a Spain Park dad that she put it all together.

Browning also helped students from Shelby County become poll workers. All the workers had to attend a one-time class to learn the process behind being a poll worker.

“They’re really excited to see the process happen before their very eyes,” Morrow said. “Students need to see government in action. Being part of the electoral process is important.”

Only 10 seniors are participating because poll workers must be 18 years old and be registered voters. That eliminated a good portion of the class, Morrow said.

“Many students were interested but were disappointed when they were told they had to be registered,” she said. “If it had been open to everybody, we would have had a large number of students.”

Morris, who turned 18 Oct. 2, said his interest in politics dates back years.

“My mom said when I was really young, I tagged along with her when she went to vote and I pulled the lever, so I’ve actually already voted once,” he said, chuckling.

Although Morris has always been interested in politics, he said the upcoming presidential election has reminded him of how important voting is.

“I’m so excited to be a part of (voting),” he said. “I live in this country just like everybody else. I’ve been waiting for 18 years and I’m ready.”

Poll workers stay at the polls from 6:30 a.m. until past 7 p.m. While polls close at 7 p.m., anyone who is in line at that time can still vote.

Morrow said she hopes students will continue to participate in the electoral process after this election is over.

“Most poll workers began working at the polls when they were very young, and I feel like (these students) will continue to work in polls,” she said. “And that’ll be a terrific story for them to tell one day.”