INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Teenagers who aren’t old enough to vote in the upcoming election are still encouraged to help out at the polls.
“We’re really hoping that when you get kids involved at an early age, then that’s going to be something they will continue through life,” said Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Williams.
The Secretary of State’s Office runs the Hoosier Hall Pass Student Poll Worker Program aimed at helping young adults learn about democracy in action, as it happens on Election Day.
Williams says after paperwork and required approvals, teens aged 16 and 17 can work as a clerk or judge at a polling place.
“I hope they learn the civics of an election day and all the things that go on,” said Williams.
Williams told News 8 a little more than 100 teens have applied to work in Hamilton County on Election Day. Back in 2016, only about 30 teenagers applied. This time around, it’s the most they’ve ever had.
“Oh! I mean, it’s a great thing,” she said.
Half an hour away, at the Marion County Election Board in downtown Indianapolis, more than 4,000 people have signed up to work the polls.
He doesn’t have exact numbers, but Russell Hollis, a deputy director with the Marion County Clerk’s Office, said far more 16- and 17-year-olds have signed up this year than in 2016 and previous election cycles.
“It says our Generation Z and our Millennials — that they are excited, that they are engaged in the political process and in our government that represents them,” said Hollis.
Hollis and Williams said the teenagers’ tech-savvy minds would be a help on Election Day.
“Particularly our teenagers. A lot of them will work the electronic poll books, which is an iPad. The iPad has a list of every registered voter in the county. That’s how we check-in voters. Typically by scanning the back of their driver’s license or Indiana ID, so that’s what a lot of our younger election workers will do. They are very familiar with that technology, as they use it every day,” said Hollis.
Click here to access an application to work the polls.