Here come ‘da judges

SCPA students help in election

Submitted Photo: Prospective Washington County election judges sit in a recent training session. Several St. Croix Preparatory Academy students will serve as election judges this fall.

Seniors from St. Croix Preparatory Academy (SPCA) are about to make their mark on Election Day in a role that not many would expect: as election judges.

The students attended election judge training Tuesday morning, and if conversations with some of the students involved are any indication, they’re excited to get started.

“I can’t vote this year so I’m excited to get into the voting room and see what exactly goes down and see everyone voting together,” said student Miranda Ailport, “I’m really looking forward to learning about voting before I actually do it.”

The driving force behind the movement is SPCA teacher Mary Jonas. She worked with about 20 students involved in the process to organize things on the back end with the county and the school.

“I feel like it’s a wonderful gateway to catch young people and get them enthralled with the political process and carry on,” Jonas said. “Young people are such an important voting block and anything I can do to make them feel powerful and involved is something I want to do.”

The students will receive service hours for their time at the polls but there’s a another goal for them.

“For me it’s doing something more than going and voting, it’s being able to help out the community too,” said student Giovanna Lombritto.

With redistricting this year there might be an increased need for people to direct voters to where they need to go and Jonas hopes that these students can help with that.

“Some people may see that as a hurdle and a reason not to participate but when they see these young friendly faces eager to help I hope they’ll be motivated to return time and time again,” Jonas said.

Supervisor of Washington County Elections Carol Peterson said other tasks the students can participate in include registering new voters, checking to ensure people are on registered voters list and making sure voters are in the right place.

“We’re just very excited and happy to have all of these students interested in getting involved,” Peterson said.

Student Riley Cameron will be doing more than most students by serving as an election judge for the whole day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the latest that students are allowed to stay. He, like the other students, is not exactly sure what to expect.

“Everyone is so silent when I’ve been there and no one says a word to anyone else when they’re there,” said Cameron. “I don’t think that’s what really happens. But I really want to get a first hand look of what it’s like and see how it is for the entire day.”

“I think a lot of young people will go and think that there’s just (President) Obama and (Mitt) Romney on the ticket, but there’s so much there that we don’t know about that it can get overwhelming,” Ailport said.

When asked if the youth apathy theory, about young people’s disinterest in politics, was myth or fact there were mixed reviews.

“On Twitter everyone is talking about it and we know who we like or dislike and I think a lot of people will go vote,” Ailport said.

Cameron disagreed slightly but emphasized the importance of getting out the vote.

“I get the vibe that most younger people think their vote doesn’t count and that’s a hurdle in this day that we have to help people overcome,” Cameron said.

While Lombritto said that she wasn’t sure a lot of people knew how this election could affect people in the future.

When it comes down to it, there was a great sense of hope for the future.

“We’re very heartened by it,” said SPCA Upper School Director Karen Klinzing. “And it’s kind of a great job that we work in, to let us see that the future is bright and that young people are willing to take part and take responsibility in the process.”