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  • E-News U. Contributor 4:04 pm on November 3, 2010 Permalink |  

    Student poll workers make a difference 

    By Camille Madison, Jovan Benjamin and Alaya Boykin

    College students and high school seniors played a significant role in the voting process in the Hampton.

    Jeanette Woodson, a Hampton University junior political science major college poll worker, played a key role at a precinct. “As an election official, I was responsible for regulating and conducting the voting process. I made sure all ballots were counted for,” said Woodson.

    She also voted. “The voting turnout was phenomenal,” she said, “over 1,300 voters from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. I was proud to be one of those voters and know that my vote made a difference.”

    The College Poll Worker program was created by State Sen. Mamie Locke, dean of the HU School of Liberal Arts. About 150 students were recruited from HU and Thomas Nelson Community College to work as election officers and vote. The program is a grant project funded by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

    Davontae Green, a 17-year-old high school senior at Phoebus High School in Hampton, was at the East Hampton polling precinct since 5:45 a.m. Tuesday. Green was not only a student poll worker but also a campaign volunteer for U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Va. “He’s a family friend and a great advocate in the African-American community,” said Green.

    At 10 a.m., Green said the traffic coming in and out of the polls was moderately high for African-Americans and young people. Green said he enjoyed being able to do his part even as someone who is not of legal age to vote. “I can encourage my friends and other young people to get out let their voice be heard.”

    Green has been active in registering young people to vote since he was 15 in the Obama election.

    Shelby Porter, a senior Interdisciplinary Studies major from Boston, volunteered at the Syms precinct polls off Fox Hill Road from 8:30-9:45 a.m. Her involvement in the midterm elections was part of the curriculum from a political science course.

    “It feels good to hold the power to encourage other young people to vote,” Porter said. “A lot of people don’t realize their voting impact until they actually do it.”

    Jerenda Manley, a junior Interdisciplinary Studies major from Chesapeake, Va., volunteered her time and voted at 7 a.m. at her local precinct.

    In the short amount of time that Porter was there, she didn’t notice a lot of young voters. “I don’t expect a lot of young people to take midterm elections as seriously as two years ago when Obama ran for president,” she said.

    Throughout the day, traffic picked up at the East Hampton precinct, especially those of young voters.

    “We’re glad to see the strong turnout from Hampton University,” said George Smith, the chief official for East Hampton precinct.

    “They predicted on the national race that the young people will not turn out, but HU has proven that they do not fall into that case. I’m just really gratified to see all of the students,” he said.

  • E-News U. Contributor 1:08 pm on November 3, 2010 Permalink |  

    Absent but accounted for on Election Day 

    By Danyelle Gary and Nichelle Parker

    With the midterm U.S Congressional elections nearing completion, many states aided students choosing to vote on Nov. 2, via absentee ballots. State websites and college campuses offered information.

    Hampton University took an active role in encouraging student voters to request absentee ballots.

    Weeks before Election Day, the HU Political Science Club hosted a table in the student center to hand out absentee ballot request forms for Virginia residents and to answer any questions they could about other states.

    “A lot of people don’t know how the process works or how to do it at all,” said Charles Graves, a senior political science major from Baltimore and president of the Political Science Club.

    According to Graves, students were not as excited to vote in this year’s election as the presidential election in 2008.

    “Unfortunately, the interest in voting is much less than it was two years ago, so it’s harder to get folks to come out and vote.”

    In many states, a letter of request must be sent to the voter’s county registration office before receiving an official absentee ballot. However for other states, like Georgia, a family member can request a ballot to be sent to a college student.

    It seems that voting loses its appeal when registered voters are unable to vote in person.

    According to the Virginia State Board of Elections website, absentee ballots in Virginia can be cast 45 days before any election.

    What is most interesting is whether or not an almost certain decrease in voter turnout compared to the November 2008 elections will affect the number of absentee ballots that have been cast for this election.

    “Even if you’re not sure, vote absentee,” Graves said. “It’s an easy way to make sure your vote gets counted. Just make sure you go vote.”

    Taylor Armstead, a senior electrical engineering major from Alameda, Calif., registered to vote in Virginia instead of mailing an absentee ballot back home.

    “I chose to vote in Virginia because then you don’t have to worry about it getting lost in the mail and your vote not being counted,” said Armstead.

    That is a fear many voters have expressed over the years. Problems are always a possibility in elections.

    Last week the Washington Post reported that the voter database called VERIS was running slow for those working for the Virginia State Board of Elections. Since then, the system has been repaired. It is not linked to the electronic voting stations and would likely not have caused any major issues on voting day.

    With everything in order, and the cut off for casting absentee ballots having already passed in some places, it is all up to those voting in person to have the final say.

    Both writers are students at the Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications

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