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Students work election polls

Seniors take day off school

Posted: November 4, 2008 10:47 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2008 4:30 a.m.

Canyon High School senior Nathan Cleveland works the polls at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School Tuesday morning. Cleveland got paid as well as earn extra credit for his government class.

Henry Gomez had an important job to do Tuesday. He manned the polls at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School in Canyon Country.

The 17-year-old Canyon High School senior took the day off from school to earn extra credit in his history class, plus he just thought it would be fun. It turns out it was a good thing Gomez showed up at 6 a.m. on election day, since the regular precinct workers were having a little trouble putting the ballot machine together.

"Henry came in and we were trying to put the machine together - we seasoned ladies - and Henry says, um, these arrows are supposed to match up," said Esther Rodriguez, 70, a 20-year veteran of the Skyblue Mesa precinct. "We felt really dumb. He knew what to do because he went to the class and he actually paid attention."

Henry attended a class for election workers held the week before the election, even though the class was optional.

"I didn't want to be confused about what I was doing," he said.

Henry and two other Canyon High seniors, Nathan Cleveland and Cynthia Sosa, worked the two precincts sharing the Skyblue Mesa polling site Tuesday. About 30 Canyon students worked at polling places across the valley.

"The students have been great," Rodriguez said. "We haven't had to tell them what to do, because they already know."

Sosa, 16, brought the third book in the Twilight vampire series by Stephenie Meyers to read during her down times, but hadn't spent much time reading Tuesday.

"When we first opened up it was so busy I couldn't even get out of my chair, but it has died down a little bit so I might get to do some reading," she said.

Sosa, a ballot clerk who handed people their ballots and gave instructions, said she wanted to work Tuesday to be a part of what she feels will be an historic election.

"This election is probably going to be the election of the century, because we have the first black candidate running and that's just amazing," Cynthia said.

While the poll workers do get paid for their services, Nathan said he wasn't doing it for the money. "We get around $125 for about 14 hours of work, so it's kind of below minimum wage," Nathan said.

Cleveland, 18, spent Tuesday morning waiting for a free moment so that he could vote for the first time himself.

"I've been waiting for a quiet time between working," he said. "There hasn't been much of a dead time yet, so I'm still waiting."


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