Student election judges participate in the 2020 presidential election


Photo courtesy of Alex Aguirre

As the polling places began to close, each election judge had a responsibility in order to keep the process running efficiently.

 Seniors were able to register to be an election judge in DuPage County for the 2020 presidential election. Election judges have many important roles, such as overseeing the voting process and assisting voters. As election judges, students were responsible for making sure the polling places were safe, unbiased, and running properly. They checked voters in, provided voters their ballots, collected ballots, and ensured the privacy of voters to allow them to fulfill their civic duty of voting. 

“I was in charge of really making sure that the election and polling went as smoothly as possible on Election Day,” senior Brian Edwards said when explaining his job.

In order for students to become election judges, they were required to do training prior to being able to work at the polls. Students were provided with a link and a lesson they had to view and complete. Once they finished the assignment, they took an assessment to prove they had learned from the lesson. If they passed the assessment, they were notified with a polling location. 

“Training was fine. It was a little bit confusing because we did not have the in-person part due toCOVID-19, but overall, it was fine,” said Edwards.

Some students were also responsible for going to a polling place the day before to help set up. They spent Monday evening setting up the machines and materials that would be used on Election Day. The following day, they were at their polling places from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Throughout the polling process, election judges rotated between their responsibilities.

Students were also paid for their work as an election judge. Many students said this was a nice benefit, but not the main reason they wanted to be a judge. However, workers at polling places could not require voters to wear masks, so there was a risk of poll workers catching COVID-19 while on the job.

“It was a nice benefit because I have to put my safety at risk,” Edwards said 

The majority of students who wanted to be election judges were not yet 18 years old and therefore could not vote in the 2020 presidential election. Being an election judge allowed students who are not currently eligible to vote e to still participate in the election. 

“I wanted to be an election judge because I’m too young to vote, and I wanted to help the election and make a positive impact,” senior Maddie DeGraff said.

Not only did students get to participate in the election, but they also learned a lot more about the election process as they worked. For most young election judges, this was their first time being in a polling place for an extended amount of time. 

“I learned a lot about all the steps taken to ensure the voter is who they are and that they are at the correct location,” DeGraff said. 

 Being an election judge was something that most students enjoyed even with the training and safety risks that went along with the experience. Many students said that they learned from their experience on the job. 

“I would definitely do it again. It is a great way to help out and be active in your community,” Edwards said.