CHICAGO—People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) announced today that in less than two months it has recruited 2,900 Chicago and Cook County college students to serve as nonpartisan election judges and election administrators for the November 7 election.
The project will result in an unprecedented number of college students working in the polls on Election Day. Their assignment is to support the operation of new electronic voting equipment that caused widespread problems during Illinois’ March primary. The students have been trained to operate election machines and will be available to provide troubleshooting and technical support to other poll workers.
“We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to help insure that problems experienced in the March election would not occur again. This program will encourage, involve and engage college students in the democratic process. The Chicago Board of Elections and Cook County Clerk’s office are receiving a pool of energetic, computer-literate election officers,” said People For the American Way Foundation Midwest Regional Director Nancy Kaszak.
PFAW Foundation has partnered with the Chicago Board of Elections and the Cook County Clerk’s office on this project.
Cook County Clerk David Orr praised PFAWF’s efforts. “I applaud People For the American Way Foundation’s extraordinarily dedicated efforts to increase the participation and power of young people in the Illinois political process,” he said.
Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal said, “People For the American Way Foundation is truly making a difference. With their assistance, we are well on our way to fixing Election Day voting problems.”
PFAWF’s work to involve college students in making sure election equipment runs smoothly is part of a proud tradition. PFAWF has also worked to increase youth participation in Illinois elections by registering voters and through direct community involvement. By recruiting college students, PFAWF has enlisted a demographic known for its familiarity with advanced computer technology. In addition to their training, these students will bring computer expertise and savvy to polling places, an invaluable asset that can help ensure the effective and efficient operation of new voting equipment.
Project directors are encouraging students to remain involved in the electoral process after November 7. PFAWF intends for the program to foster long-term, active participation in elections and civic affairs.
“So often people overlook my generation, or try to sell us a candidate like he or she is a can of Pepsi. People For the American Way Foundation regards us as a necessary and integral part of the community,” said Loyola University junior Marco Lopez.
This project would have been impossible without the generous donations of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, The Boeing Company and the Francis Beidler Foundation.