Previous articles on have mentioned the “graying” of America’s poll workers.  The average age of a poll worker is 72, and  they obviously are not getting any younger.  Even more depressingly, precincts across the nation are overworked and shorthanded.  According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, poll worker error was responsible for over 1 million lost votes.  That’s one million voters effectively disenfranchised because of our rapidly aging poll worker population.  It is clear that America needs a new generation of voters to step up and take on this important civic responsibility.

To that end, the William & Mary Election Law Program is pleased to announce its latest initiative, the Tidewater Roots Poll Project. The goal of the Project is to recruit 240 college students from 6 schools across the Tidewater region: William & Mary, Hampton University, Regent University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University and Christopher Newport University.  These students will be trained as election officials and introduced to experienced poll workers to spark an appreciation for the tradition of civic involvement of the region.  The project will be documented in oral history videographies featuring the students and their interactions with experienced poll workers.

Ultimately, our mission is not just to get 240 college students to work this election day, but to inspire them to make a lifetime commitment to participatory democracy.

To learn more about the program, or if you are a student at one of those six schools who wants to get involved, visit the project’s website at


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