Ramona High School students got a chance to learn how elected officials are chosen and how the democratic process works by helping out in polling booths on Nov. 4.
About 14 Advanced Placement Government students in Mona Snodgrass’ classes applied to the Registrar of Voters to work. Two other teachers’ students also applied. It was not the first time that students have helped at the polls.
Dodge McIntosh, 16, a senior at the school, was among those who worked. Dodge was assigned to the polling station at New Life Assembly of God Church on Letton Street. He was asked to arrive at 6 a.m. and he worked until 9:30 p.m.
“It wasn’t so bad getting up that early, because the time change had just happened, but by the end of the evening, it started to feel like a long day,” Dodge said.
His father, Doug McIntosh, went by in the evening to drop off food.
Students got community service credits for the work, and they were asked to share their experiences with their class.
Dodge said he was interested in the assignment because so much attention was focused on the elections as a whole this year, and particularly because there was a young presidential candidate and a lot of young people interested in voting.
“People who had worked at a polling booth before told me that there was an increase in the number of people who came out to vote this year,” he said. “It was really neat to see everyone making their voice heard.”
Dodge estimated that about 300 people went through his station. He was assigned to be a touchscreen inspector, but he spent most of his time checking people off the street index, to make sure they were in the correct precinct. The touchscreen is only used by people who are visually impaired.
Students were paid from $72 to $125 for their work, depending on whether they were bilingual or took a four-hour training class. Dodge said the training materials were easy to follow, so he felt that he could understand his assignment well.
Some other students were posted at stations at Wildlife Research Institute on Highland Valley Road and at other churches.
Dodge said he may want to go into politics later. He plans to major in political science at a University of California school. He’s looking forward to taking part in a program called UCDC, in which UC students can go to Washington and intern for a representative of Congress. He has been on the Associated Student Body at Ramona High. He also is a student representative on the Ramona Unified School District Board.
“It’s really cool to have a hand in what is done at school,” Dodge said. “I like making the high school experience better for all students and I might like taking that to the next level.”