W&M law student project trains area students to help with elections

  • Tidewater Roots Poll ProjectLaw students who helped recruit area college students to work at the polls on Tuesday included, from left, Jordan Bowman '13, Willie Black '12, Meredith McCoy '12, Ashleigh Casey '12, Alexander Snyder-Mackler '14, Brooks Braun '12, and Alexander Grout '12.

    Tidewater Roots Poll Project

In its second year, the Tidewater Roots Poll Project (TRPP) based at William & Mary Law School recruited 75 Hampton Roads area college students to work at Election Day polling places across the region on Tuesday.

"With a reduced budget and an off-year election, we weren't sure what to expect, " said Alex Grout, a third-year law student at William & Mary and TRPP director. "But we were able to recruit even more students this year by having a superb group of law student recruiters and building on our momentum from a year ago."

Participants this year include students from Christopher Newport University, Norfolk State University and Virginia Commonwealth University as well as William & Mary.

TRPP, a project to aid local government in recruiting and training a new generation of poll workers, is funded by a Help America Vote College Program grant administered by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). W&M Law School received the EAC grant in the summer of 2010. Students from the school's Election Law Society (ELS) take on the recruiting role, fanning out to area colleges to promote civic engagement through working at the polls.

Recruited college students are taken through the process by the law student recruiters, who help the trainees register to vote (if they have not already), fill out and notarize poll worker applications, attend a registrar-run training, and work the polls on Election Day. Law student recruiters also organize educational pancake breakfasts intended to give college student trainees exposure to more experienced poll workers. At the breakfasts, those with experience working the polls in Virginia have shared their stories, inspiring in students a life of civic service.

"Our recruiters worked tirelessly throughout the fall traveling to each campus and developing a personal connection with each student they sign up," said Grout. "I attribute our improvement this year 100 percent to their work ethic and commitment to finding - and inspiring - the next generation of poll workers."