Making every vote count


While most high school students were too young to vote in the presidential election,  this year they still had a  chance to get involved.

A program sponsored by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder offered students who will be 16 years old by Election Day a chance to work at poll centers for 43 hours and receive $380. Shifts were split into two 11-hour weekend days and 16 hours on Election Day at  Armstrong Elementary School, Diamond Bar High School and Chaparral Middle School for students in this area.

Junior Isaac Miao said  that the pay was not a factor in  his decision to sign up, as it was less than $10 per hour. Conversely, juniors Emma Fu and Kelly Reyes stated that the pay did have a small influence on their choice. For all three students, however, the main driving factor was getting a new experience.

Miao and Fu both found out about this program through the Google Classroom of Diamond Bar High School physics teacher Angela Jensvold. However, other students like Reyes learned from a friend who recommended they sign up together.

In preparation, students also had to undergo training; these sessions were made up of three hours of online training and two hours in-person. These courses taught them how to work with the iPads used to allow people to vote.

“The training was prepping us for the worst-case scenario,” Miao said via Instagram. “A lot of the info they trained us on was not used.”

There were also many protocols in place to ensure workers and voters were in a clean and safe environment. Miao stated that everything was sanitized after every use and students were also expected to follow CDC guidelines. In addition, electioneering, or the promotion of certain candidates, was not allowed.

“I would definitely recommend this because it was honestly so fun just socializing with new people. I learned how the voting process worked and how measures were taken to ensure the safety of people’s votes” Miao said. “You get to know these people within the span of 3 days and form connections that you wouldn’t have been able to without being there.”

The interior of the poll centers had voting stations lined up in rows so that people could enter and vote. Students were given certain jobs to do, such as searching for voters and printing their ballots, sanitizing the area after each person voted and sitting outside the school to guide people to the voting area.

“We need to open up polls, set up and check people in to vote,” Fu said. “At the end of the day, we need to make sure the number of ballots was counted correctly by the machines.”

Both Fu and Miao said  that there were not many people who came to the poll center that they worked at. Despite this, they learned more from the people they talked to than the actual work they did.

“I got to see people who supported Trump or Biden and hear about why they did. It was really interesting to learn about both sides,” Miao said. “Since we were just checking in people on an iPad I did not learn much about the election itself, but talking to adults for two days solidified my confidence in talking to them.”

Reyes said that the most rewarding part of the experience for her was being able to see how excited voters got when they cast their ballots and left with their “I Voted” stickers.

“It intrigued me because it is something that is important in history and being able to help with the election made me excited,” Reyes said.