MOUNT VERNON — So far only two local high school seniors who are 17 or older have signed up for training to be paid poll workers in Knox County on election day, Nov. 5, says Peggy Hockenberry, the Knox County Board of Elections coordinator of its “Youth at the Booth” program.
Thus far there has been little response since Hockenberry sent out “Youth at the Booth” election day sign-up packets to area high schools the week of Sept. 16-20, which included follow-up phone calls from her. Despite the job being a one day poll worker effort that requires just two hours of training — and pays seniors and other poll workers up to $160 — only her son, East Knox High School senior Bryan Hockenberry, and Silas McElhaney, a 17-year-old homeschooled student from the Centerburg area, have signed up as of Wednesday. They are doing a service to American democracy with their commitment to being poll workers during a general election, said Hockenberry, who also directs managers and coordinators of each of the county’s 53 precincts.
The elections board still needs 25 more poll workers, Hockenberry said. There are 29 polling places in Knox County to go along with those 53 precincts. Each precinct is afforded four poll workers, so that’s 212 workers that are hired and trained.
The good news for high school seniors who may still be interested is that time remains on the October calendar to complete the two hours of mandatory poll worker training, she said, which is held in the basement level of the Knox County Memorial Building, 112 E. High St. in Mount Vernon. There are PEO (Precinct Elected Officials) training scheduled Tuesday of next week at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and then another Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. Still more are scheduled Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 9 a.m. Hockenberry is also planning to hold one during a Board of Elections Open House Oct. 26 at 10 a.m.
The $160 that can be earned by high school students age 17 and up breaks down as follows: $20 for mandatory 2-hour training; $10 available for additional (and optional) online training; and $130 for working on General Election Day, Nov. 5, from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Poll workers must provide their own transportation. Election day voting starts early, so poll workers must be on time and remain through the end of the day until polling locations close, she said.
It also requires high school seniors to inform their parents, teachers, and school administrators that they will be working as poll workers Nov. 5. More good news for students is the money they earn is not taxed, she said. They get to earn a sense of pride by serving their democracy and their country, help their county to create a new generation of precinct officials, and obtain service experience for job resumes and college applications.
To be eligible, high school seniors must be registered voters in Knox County, which they can do at age 17, or become registered voters. They must also be US citizens. For more information, seniors may contact Hockenberry at (740) 397-2188, or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org. They may also complete the form by visiting the elections board office on the second floor of the Knox County Service Center.
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