Students become part of voting process as election judges

By : 
Jordan Gerard

A tradition once gone is being brought back with students serving as election judges in next week’s midterm election.

Students in social studies teacher Al Lochner’s Advance Placement (AP) government class will each take two-hour shifts during Election Day.

City clerk/treasurer and election administrator Erin Konkel said it’s good for the students to learn what it takes to be an election judge and learn about the city’s voting process. A few are eligible to vote in the election.

“I believe it teaches them the importance of voting and serving your community,” Konkel said. 

In order to qualify as election judges, students had to complete a two-hour long online training. Typically, the city has paid volunteers along with Konkel to oversee the voting process. The city isn’t short of election judges it just asked students to get involved this year.

Lochner said he was thrilled when Konkel approached him about the opportunity.

“It’s a nice, easy, real-world way for them to get the requirement,” he said. 

Not only does it help familiarize students with the voting process, it also fulfills a citizenship requirement for the class. The AP College Board requires the curriculum to have an opportunity for students to engage in a political applied research project or an applied civics project. 

Working as election judges will not affect the exam students can take at the end of the year, but having a real world activity that helps them understand the content they are learning in class. 

Since the AP government class is held every other year, it coincides with midterm and presidential elections, giving the chance for more student election judges in the future.

“It helps make the political process real for the kids. They see how it actually works,” Lochner said. “The goal is for them to ultimately become active participants in our democracy. To be concerned and informed citizens.”

It gets them familiar with Minnesota’s voting process, how to register, what the ballots look like and how other states have different methods of voting.

Students in their roles will be helping people get registered to vote, help people to sign in, handing them ballots, directing foot traffic and more. 

Previously, students in the early 2000s also worked as election judges, but that stopped for about 10 years due to changing city councils.

Konkel hopes the experience on Election Day will help students volunteer their time in the polling place in the future and see the importance in voting.

Midterm elections take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Find your polling place at https://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.