Bringing in the vote

Caroline Petrikas, Staff Writer

Students immersed themselves in the 2020 election by working polls and organizing voter registration drives.

Sophomores Josie Agnew and Caraday Martin, junior Eleanor Lockart and senior Mia Xia were among those who fulfilled their civic responsibility, even though some were not old enough to vote.

Texas allows students at least 16 years old to serve as county election clerks. Agnew, Lockhart and Martin organized the polling locations before they opened and closed, ensured qualified voters were permitted to vote, checked in voters, distributed ballots and processed these votes.

“I can’t vote so this is the only thing I can do to help move the election forward,” Lockhart said. “If I can do anything to make voting easier, even if it means working 13 hours, I’m happy to do it.”

Beginning work at 6:30 a.m. and ending 13 and a half hours later at 8 p.m., Lockhart did just that. She managed the ballot box, approved voter IDs and gave registered voters their ballots. She said she really enjoyed it because it was fast-paced and felt like an important job.

“It felt like a lot of responsibility to be giving to a 17-year-old, but I’m not complaining,” Lockhart said.

Likewise, Agnew couldn’t vote but still wanted to contribute to the election. Partnering with her sister, Harper Clouston ‘15, Agnew checked people in and helped anyone who requested assisted voting, which required her to bring the voting equipment outside to them.

Agnew said her favorite part was meeting all the other workers that day.

“It was clear some of us shared opposing views while others shared similar ones, but at the end of the day we were all there to help with an election that holds a very high importance in our lives, and we bonded over that,” Agnew said.

Like Agnew, Martin’s goal was to help all the voters, regardless of their political affiliation, so she loved seeing her impact reflected in Texas’ voter turnout.

“Our goal is to help people,” Martin said. “We want to help them use their voice so we exhaust every option allowing them to vote.”

At her station, Martin served as the poll monitor the whole day. She scanned voters’ license or other forms of photo ID, provided additional forms and administered ballots.

Because she is 18, Xia was able to vote; however, she said civic responsibility doesn’t end there and continued to immerse herself in the election to increase voter turnout. She partnered with the League of Women voters of Dallas and Hockaday volunteers to organize a voter registration drive North Dallas.

They set up outside Wesley Rankin Community Center on Oct. 3, the last day for voter registration in Texas.

Her biggest challenge was not knowing how many people would come. It took awhile for the drive to pick up momentum, but turnout gradually increased as awareness spread, Xia said.

Originally people were at the center to pick up their kids, but as the event continued, people began to show up just to register. Xia estimated they helped register around 40 people.

In addition, she worked at a phone bank with March for Our Lives to register voters and inform them about the upcoming election.

“I got involved because I believe your voice as a constituent is so important in government and especially in a democracy,” Xia said. “It is your responsibility to make a tangible change.”