Students work for democracy

DarNella Stone, a sophomore nursing major, found it interesting and wanted a way to make some extra money, so she signed up to be a poll worker for Election Day.

“I have never did anything like this before but I am interested in being a poll worker because it seems like it would be an interesting experience,” Stone said.

Stone is one of forty-five students that have signed up expressing interest in being a poll worker.

Encouraging students to sign up to be poll workers is just one of the initiatives the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement has done on campus this fall semester to encourage interest in the 2010 election and to emphasize the importance of full participation in civic life and democratic processes. All the programs are being paid by resources from the Scripps Howard Center, as most of them are labor intensive.

“Our democracy counts on participation,” said Mark Neikirk, executive directive of NKU’s Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement. “We want to emphasize the right to vote and the responsibility to exercise that right.”

Amanda Peters, a graduate student in NKU’s masters of public administration program, has been involved and in charge of several of the initiatives and is the one who designed the poll working initiative. Students who are interested in being poll workers can contact Peters at the Scripps Howard Center by phone or by e-mail, or they can also call their county clerk’s office. Peters will put them in touch with their county’s party representative to set up their poll training. Students can be paid $125 to $150, depending on the county, for working a poll.

“I believe that it is our duty as American citizens to regulate the legislation that our lawmakers enact for us,” Peters said. “So, I try to be as active and informed as I possibly can.”

The Scripps Howard Center also hosted five voter registration drives, which ended on Oct. 4, where students could register to vote. The drives resulted in over 100 students registering to vote.

One of the major voting-related activities is an online mock election which features the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, in which Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul are the major candidates. Anyone with an NKU e-mail address can vote including students, faculty and staff online at before Nov. 2. Each voter is also asked to complete a short survey asking what three issues and two candidates’ characteristics matter most to them in this year’s election. The online election was first developed by the College of Informatics and the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement for the 2008 presidential election.

NKU students can also volunteer to work for the kids national voting program. NKU is working with Kenton County schools to roll out Kids Voting Northern Kentucky in its pilot year. Their goal is to have close to all 13,000 students in the county district to vote in the simulated online election.

“The thought process is that those who vote young remain as voters,” Neikirk said. “Voting is not mysterious when you grow up seeing your parents vote.”

For more information on the voting-related activities hosted by the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, call (859) 572-1448 or visit their office in Founders Hall 536.

Story by John Minor