SPARTANBURG — University of South Carolina Upstate students enrolled in Dr. Lizabeth Zack’s political sociology class will get an up-close look at the election process when they work the election polls throughout Spartanburg County on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
“The Poll Worker Project is a hands-on learning experience that should give students a better understanding of how the American electoral system works and what it takes to produce free and fair elections in a democracy,” said Dr. Zack. “The poll workers will assist county election officials in ensuring elections are secure and run smoothly.”
Twenty-two students participating in the Poll Worker Project recently received training from the Spartanburg County Voter Registration Office. They learned about the proper procedures for verifying voters on the rolls and how to operate the voting machines. On Election Day, the students will welcome all voters, facilitate voting, conduct precinct operations in accordance with election laws, and follow defined procedures. In Zack’s classroom, the students will reflect on their experience through discussion and writing assignments.
“I believe anyone with political interest should volunteer as a poll worker as least once in their lifetime, if possible,” said student Shimia Hunter. “I have been a poll worker in the past and was able to gain a better understanding of how elections work in our country. I found it interesting and learned that elections involve much more than casting a ballot. I think it’s great that Dr. Zack is getting students out of the classroom to get first-hand experience of what we learn from our textbook.”
Brittany Hood, another student in Zack’s class, says she has previously taken a rather passive role in the political process. “By participating in the Poll Worker Project, I’m expecting to see how integral the average citizen is to keeping this process running. I also want to be more involved in local politics, and am hoping active participation will encourage me to be a more informed and engaged constituent.”
Henry Laye, director of registration and elections for Spartanburg County, heralds Dr. Zack’s initiative and her students’ enthusiasm for it. “This is a marvelous project. Spartanburg County always needs its citizens to have a voice in electing the leadership of our nation, state and local entities. This is vital to the continued future of our country. By working with poll managers at various polling locations, these USC Upstate students will experience our political system first hand. Professor Zack is to be commended.”
The University of South Carolina Upstate is a regional comprehensive university offering more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, nursing, and education. Located along the I-85 corridor in Spartanburg between Greenville and Charlotte, USC Upstate is ranked by U.S. News & World Report at #2 among Top Public Schools. It serves as a major talent producer for the region, with more than 6,000 students, approximately 1,300 new graduates a year, and nearly 30,000 alumni, many of whom live and work in the state. The USC Upstate Spartans compete in 17 NCAA Division 1 sports as a member of the Big South Conference. For more information, visit www.uscupstate.edu.