When students of the College of William and Mary vote Tuesday, Nov. 4, they might see some familiar faces working the polls. This Election Day, seven Student Assembly members will collaborate with Williamsburg community members to operate the electronic poll books and ensure that the voting process runs smoothly.
The SA members working the polls volunteered or were recruited by the Williamsburg City Registrar’s office.
“As a member of the SA, I was already involved in registering students to vote, and I saw this opportunity as a continuation of that kind of work,” SA Secretary for Public Affairs David Witkowsky ’11 said. “I asked if I could be a volunteer and signed an oath in the registrar’s office to uphold the Constitution while I perform the work.”
Other SA members said they are working because they are interested in government and public policy.
“I’m thinking about becoming a public policy major and have always been interested in politics, so this is a great chance to really see what goes on behind the scenes on election day,” Sen. Betty Jeanne Manning ’12 said.
The registrar’s office pays each volunteer a total of $140 for his or her time.
“Myself and the members of the SA would gladly work the polls regardless of any payment,” SA Representative to Williamsburg Jill Olszewski ’12 said. “We have worked very hard on voter registration, and now we are able to see the results.”
The poll-workers’ day begins early.
“We have to be on location at 4:45 a.m. to get everything set up, and all day we get no breaks except for lunch and dinner,” Witkowsky said. “Voting technically ends at 7 [p.m.], but at that time anyone in line … can still vote. We might not be able to leave until 10 or 11 that night.”
The helpers will voluntarily miss classes on this day to perform their work.
“Seriously, this is such an important election to be a part of,” Sen. Michael Douglass ’11 said. “I don’t mind missing classes.”
Workers also attend two training sessions to learn how to operate the newly introduced electronic poll book.
In spite of the long hours, missed classes and mandatory training sessions, the workers from the SA are enthusiastic about the opportunity to work the polls on election day.
“This election is one for the history books,” Olszewski said. “To be involved in the election as history is made is just fantastic.”
SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09 is looking forward to connecting with the Williamsburg community through the SA efforts.
“I think it’s really important that if students are going to register to vote in Williamsburg, they also participate in things like working the polls,” Hopkins said. “This way, we’re becoming involved and complete members of the community.”
Williamsburg Voter Registrar Winifred Sowder is pleased with the student participation.
“We just asked for students’ help because we needed some volunteers who would be good with computers,” she said. “We’re happy to have them and appreciate their help.”