Earlier this month, students in Ms. Gross’ AP Government class learned about alumna Jessie Jane Lewis’ efforts to provide access to polling stations and polling machines for the disabled when they viewed her exhibition “Chronic Creativity: Art & Activism” in the Barbara Crawford Gallery.
This week, many of the same students had the opportunity to get inside a polling station and witness firsthand what Lewis had fought so hard for.
Fourteen seniors chose to engage as poll workers on Tuesday for their civic action homework assignment. Fanning across the city and beyond—some working 15 hours!—SCH students showed up!
Serving as a “clerk,” “machine inspector,” or bilingual interpreter,” their duties ranged from signing people in, explaining the voting machine to first-time users, and in some cases, totaling the number of votes and voters at the end of the night. In New Britain, Montgomery County, Hans Bode saw over 1,200 people come through his polling station!
Nora Elliott shared, “It was interesting to see how simple the process really is. I handed people a ballot. They turned it in. And, BOOM. It was done!” Nathalie Taylor, who was assigned to a station in Manayunk, loved the community aspect of working the polls, “Old-timers, moms with babies in strollers, and dogs… they all turned out in person and you got a real sense of the neighborhood.” At one polling station, a student heard about someone who had driven eight hours in order to be able to vote, having missed the deadline to submit an absentee ballot. At another station, a man came running in just as the station was closing and begged to be able to still vote after having shown up at several wrong polling places throughout the city.
At the end of the day, the range of experiences gave our new-to-voting students a strong sense of the importance of having their voices heard by participating in the democratic process and the fundamental duty of voting.