It’s how we can share our voice. It’s how our opinions matter. We need to vote. And voting is not all that can be done. Although the 2020 election may be over, local and state elections are constantly being held. Jenna Meadows is a student at the University of Arizona who educates young people on the importance of voting.
Daily Wildcat: How many students did you recruit to work the polls?
Jenna Meadows: I am a part of the national organization, the Campus Vote Project. One of the goals of the project is to help reduce barriers in the campus communities for voting.
Another aspect is to ensure that students and faculty on universities campuses have resources to make it easier for students to vote. They do this by providing all the information needed on when, where and how to vote.
The Campus Vote Project has aimed to make the community come together to help the nation. They have recruited over 10,000 poll workers nationwide, and Arizona has hundreds of participants as well. In [Pima County] alone, over 200 participants have joined the organization.
DW: What made you so passionate to promote voting this year?
JM: I think every election at every level is important. Every election is important as it is impactful. Regardless if it is a state or national election, expressing one’s voice is vital.
Another notion I want to point out is the current voting population includes almost equal parts millennials and baby boomers, meaning that the youth vote has the potential to be extremely influential in this country. They, the youth voters, have a say in how the future unfolds, and this is their time to make themselves heard.
DW: What made you advocate for students to work the polls this year?
JM: Voting requirements include having to be a United States citizen, needing to be a resident in at least one state and having to be at least eighteen years old. Some states may allow for seventeen year olds to vote in primaries or register to vote early one.
Over 15 states allow for voting prior to being eighteen. A few of these states include Maine, Colorado, North and South Carolina, West Virginia, and Illinois.
Even if you vote, there is more that can be done. The current issue that the nation is facing is that there is a shortage of election poll workers. Unfortunately, most poll workers are recognized as being high-risk for potentially contracting the coronavirus. Most poll workers are over sixty years old, and this poses a problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.” Fewer people among the sixty-plus population have been signing up to help with the polls.
Due to the concern, our nation needs support from the youth. I encourage the younger generation to aid with the polls. We need young, healthy individuals to sign up to protect our democracy. Due to COVID-19, polling locations across our country and Arizona are at risk of closing if they aren’t staffed with enough poll workers.
DW: What information do you want to provide to students on if there are any spots left available to sign up? Where could they sign up? Do you have to be registered to vote in Arizona to work the polls?
JM: There are a variety of ways that students can aid in the presidential election. For one, they can vote early and ensure that their ballots will be received on time if he/she/they decide to vote absentee. Another way is to work at the polls.
In order to get registered to work at the polls, a specific form needs to be filled out.
Power the Polls is a first-of-its-kind initiative to recruit poll workers through specific sign-up links to ensure a safe, fair election for all voters.
Before considering to sign up, there are some requirements to work the polls in the state of Arizona. To be a poll worker, individuals do need to be registered to vote in Arizona. If you want to work the polls in [Pima County], you must be registered to vote in Pima.
DW: How important do you believe voting is?
JM: Voting is crucial. It is a way for individuals to make themselves heard, to connect with their community, and to hold not only themselves, but others accountable as well. Every vote matters.
Follow Briana Aguilar on Twitter