Mankato, Minn., students get involved as trainee election judges
MANKATO, Minn. -- Lenore Busse isn't old enough to vote, but won't sit on the sidelines this Election Day. The Mankato East High School junior is already involved in politics as a left-leaning activist and wants to take her activism to the pollin...
MANKATO, Minn. -- Lenore Busse isn't old enough to vote, but won't sit on the sidelines this Election Day.
The Mankato East High School junior is already involved in politics as a left-leaning activist and wants to take her activism to the polling place.
Minnesota, along with about a dozen other states, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to be trainee election judges.
Sixty-three Mankato East students have volunteered, and about half of those spent a recent evening in training, which included a pep talk by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
The participation of young people has changed the candidates' dialogue, he told the group.
"People talk about the war; they talk about the draft," said Ritchie, who has been traveling around the state talking to groups of judges.
This, he told a group of mostly students and older judges, is the real deal -- democracy in action.
"This year, you're going to make history," he said.
Young voters may also find it easier to relate to young election judges, Ritchie said.
Glen Shouts, also a junior, said it's a good opportunity and a way to thank social studies teacher Daryl Arzdorf, who has been organizing his students since 1994.
And it's not just the "A" students who show up. They're not in it for the $7 an hour stipend; nor is it an excuse to skip class, he said.
"I think they're genuinely excited" about the election, he said.
Trainees can do most of what a regular judge can do.
They can't declare party affiliation, so they can't do anything that requires two election judges of different parties. For example, it takes judges of different parties to empty ballots from a counting machine.