“Good morning! Where do you live?” It’s a busy morning at the Lakeside Recreation Center in Geddes and Alexandra Scudder keeps repeating those words over and over as voter after voter comes through the front door. When she finds voters’ names and addresses in the registry she directs them to the corresponding table so they can receive a ballot and vote.
Scudder, a freshman from West Irondequoit, is one of 30 OCC students working at polling places across Onondaga County. Each arrived at their polling places at 5:30 a.m. and worked until the polls closed at 9 p.m. “I’m very excited to be taking part in the process. I think this is an experience so many college students should have,” Scudder said.
A similar scene is being repeated at the Elmwood School Gym in Syracuse where OCC student Jonathan Rowe greets each voter who enters the polling place. “It’s great to speak with each person who comes in here. I really feel like I’m making a difference by working here.”
As the day goes on Rowe, a sophomore from Horseheads, sees a trend developing which was a topic of discussion in class. “Working here and seeing a lack of younger voters has reminded me of what our professors told us about being more involved. I’ve barely seen anyone around my age. The younger generation needs to be involved in our government, how things work and having their voice heard.”
Those words are music to the ears of OCC Political Science Professors Nina Tamrowski and Chris Thuot. They organize the annual effort which results in students working at the polls. “It’s very satisfying every year to know our students are taking part in the process and learning how it works,” said Thuot.
OCC students started working at polling places in 2008 and have done so every year since then. “We always enjoy hearing from students’ right after election day,” said Tamrowski. “They are always thankful for the opportunity and have a much better understanding of how important it is for young people to take part in the process.”