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.