University of Rochester

Undergrads Experience Electoral Process as College Poll Workers

August 19, 2010

Grant Funds Monroe County Elections Fellowship Program

This coming election day, Rochester undergraduate students will have the opportunity to participate directly in the electoral process by working as college poll inspectors, thanks to a grant from the federal Election Assistance Commission through the "Help America Vote Act." The grant will fund the Monroe County Election Fellowship program, which will be housed at the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) at the University of Rochester.

The program is a partnership between the University, Monroe Community College, Roberts Wesleyan College, and the Monroe County Board of Elections. Through the program, 150 students (50 from each school) will be trained to work at one of Monroe County's 350 polling sites, where they will assist voters as they cast their ballots in the November 2nd election. The grant will fund a stipend for each student and help alleviate the costs associated with running the program.

In addition to the 150 undergraduates who will work at the polls, six students will be selected as Election Fellows. In this leadership role, Election Fellows will be at the University of Rochester from Monday, Aug. 23 to Friday, Aug. 27, participating in a "boot camp" that will train them on how to use the voting machines, teach recruitment techniques, and introduce them to the bi-partisan election process.

"We believe this fellowship program complements the mission of the Center and will be a formative experience for our students," said Glenn Cerosaletti, director of the RCCL. "It is our hope that students will gain an increased sense of civic engagement by being a part of the election process."

As sanctioned by New York State law, there must be four election inspectors on duty at polling site; two inspectors must represent the Democratic Party and two must represent the Republican Party. Throughout the sixteen-hour day, inspectors open and close the polls, process voters, complete paperwork, and offer general assistance to the public.

The Election Fellows and student poll inspectors also will have the opportunity to learn how to use New York State's new ImageCast optical voting machines. The technology, which is being introduced to polls this fall, requires voters to fill in bubbles on a paper ballot and insert it into a deposit scanner. As poll inspectors, students will help voters make a smooth transition to using the new machines.

For more information about the Election Fellowship program or the Election Fellows "boot camp," call Melissa Greco Lopes at 585.260.6666 or e-mail