Amelia Lively, seated, has been an Election Day poll worker for four years. She said she got started as a way to earn money and get excused from school. Now she loves the job and commutes from college each year to help. Above, Lively prepares for potential voters and talks with another precinct worker earlier today at the Union County Services Center. Also pictured is fellow poll worker Bruce Kinsey.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)
Amelia Lively has a word of advice for people her age, or anybody really.
“Definitely go vote,” Lively said. “Whether you do it early or do it on Election Day, go vote. Your vote does count. Your voice means something in our government.”
Lively is a junior Animal Sciences major at The Ohio State University and a poll worker for the Union County Board of Elections.
“I have been working with them since I was a junior in high school,” Lively said.
She explained that she was in a government class at Marysville High School when a teacher told the class of the need for poll workers and said some high school students were eligible to help.
“Actually, at the time I misunderstood what the requirements were,” Lively said.
She said she didn’t understand that only seniors were eligible so she, a junior applied to help. Despite her grade level, she was approved to help.
At the time, her reasons were not all that civic minded.
“I didn’t have a job then and I noticed there would be a little bit of compensation. Christmas was coming and I needed to buy a present. And we would be excused from classes,” she said.
Lively knew Tina LaRoche, director of the Union County Board of Elections, through the school district and through her family. Lively thought the chance to work with LaRoche “would be fun.”
Lively was assigned as a general poll worker at the Union County Services Center.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lively said. I really liked the people I was working with. I got to see a lot of people in Marysville and I liked that. It was a good way to spend a day not in class.”
Reflecting back, Lively said it was even more than a good time.
“It was a good way to help people,” Lively said.
Since that election in the fall of 2014, Lively has worked every spring and fall election. After she graduated from Marysville, Lively went to school at OSU’s Wooster and Marion campuses.
“Even then, I still commuted back for Election Day and helped out,” Lively said.
This year she is attending the university’s Columbus campus so today’s commute was much easier. With her experience, Lively has been moved from a general poll worker to a member of the polling location’s help desk. She said at that station she will help with provisional ballots, will answer questions and will help with any unusual circumstances.
Lively said many of the other poll workers are older, but that helps the experience.
“You get to meet a lot of great people, learn a lot of cool things. It is a great way to get a new perspective on things,” Lively said.
She added, “It is really cool to see and hear how things have changed, even on something as simple as elections.”
LaRoche has made getting into the schools a major priority. She works to get into each high school and present the importance of voting as well as volunteering. Lively said the initiative is helpful in ways that go beyond just the voting booth.
“I really appreciate any program that can help me be better at…adulting,” Lively said.
She said that school does a good job teaching academic subject matter, but sometimes doesn’t touch on practical matters that many adults take for granted, specifically citing completing forms and voting.
“My mom always took us, but we stayed in the car,” Lively said of her past election experiences.
She said she has learned that many of the things she was scared of, like casting a ballot, are not as difficult as she feared.
She said she encourages others her age or even younger to register to vote first and then to get involved.
“It is really a great way to help out your community and it is something you can do while you are young,” Lively said. “A lot of people my age are looking for ways to volunteer and this is a good way.”
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