Student Elections

The Johnson County Election Office, would like to collaborate with your high school and utilize taxpayer funded voting equipment in your high school elections each spring.

Our objective is to enter into a partnership with the Johnson County School Districts to introduce the voting process and the concept of being a life-long voter into your high school students’ curriculum.  This would entail using Johnson County’s poll pads, encoders and voting machines as well as train students as poll workers to actually run the high school election. We in turn hope this will interest the students in becoming student election workers in actual county elections as well as register students to vote as they become 18 years of age.

The first step is to meet with appropriate staff to set the date of election.  Contact Gae Brislan, Election Manager, 913-715-6816, Gae.Brislan@jocogov.org  at the Johnson County Election office and complete the form she will send to you by email and return it with information addressed in this pamphlet. 

Designate a key person to be in charge of the election such as Social Studies Chairperson, Student Council Sponsor, etc. and the high school student contact from the student political group, leadership class or other club leadership group.  Please provide their email, fax and phone numbers as well.

Decide what type of election you will have on Election Day.  Will it be a 3 hour quick lunch election where our experience shows turn out of less than 50% for school participation?  Or a 2-day election with a 90% or greater turnout for school participation by bringing each social studies class to vote throughout the day?

Choose a location that will accommodate five (5) voting machines and two 6 foot tables, one (1) for poll pads and one (1) for exit table where “I Voted” stickers are handed out.  Plus, one (1) 4 foot table to display and assist students in filling out Student Worker and Voter Registration Application.  We will need seven (7) chairs and the ability to connect to cellular service easily.  We also will require access to one or two outlets, then we “daisy chain” the rest of the equipment we will use together.  Libraries are ideal as well as larger counseling reception areas.  Lunch rooms tend to be quite noisy with a lot of distractions.  

The Election Office will provide the full polling place set-up.  This includes two (2) poll pads, five (5) voting machines, signage and applications for students to participate in actual elections and register to vote.  Election Office personnel meet with contacts the day before election for set-up and training.  We usually set the equipment up the afternoon before the election and train the students who have volunteered to do so at this time.  Students actually run their election, the Election Office personnel will be on-site for support and technical issues. 

The Greeter and one other student are the first workers the voter comes in contact with.  At this table students can peruse the Student Election Worker Applications and the Voter Registration Application.  Next the voter moves to the table where the Poll Pad Judge checks in voters on the Poll Pad using Student ID’s, verifies voter and then sends the voter to the Machine Attendant.  The Machine Attendant encodes the correct ballot on the voting machine identified on the voter’s ballot ticket which is provided by the Poll Pad Judge then inserts the Voter Access Card into the voting machine.  That person then places the ballot ticket in the envelope attached to the voting machine and steps away to allow voter to cast their ballot.  After voting the voting student proceeds to the exit and receives their “I Voted” sticker from a worker.  Fifty to 100 students can comfortably run through the voting process during a class period depending on the ballot length.

The results tapes from the five (5) voting machines are provided to the school sponsor immediately after voting machines are closed and it is the sponsor’s responsibility to add the results tapes together to determine the winner of the elections.

We want to convey to students the importance of voting and what citizen involvement in elections can achieve. Civic education opportunities in school have been shown to increase the likelihood that a young person will vote.   Possibly this can be done during a school assembly where the Principal speaks on this topic.  Teachers can reinforce this by discussing the importance of voting, where and how to register to vote and by making it a part of their curriculum to vote in an attempt to reduce voter apathy in general.  The election office makes their contribution by simulating an election as realistic as possible so students know what to expect at their first voting experience in their community.

Many students will be new to voting and are not aware of the process.  Having information about how, when and where to vote can help young people be and feel prepared to vote as well as reduce any level of intimidation they may feel.  Statistics show 21% of young people ages 18-29 said they did not register to vote because they missed the registration deadline;  6% said they didn’t know where or how to register.  The proportion of 18-24 year olds who said they were registered to vote in 2014 was at its lowest point in 40 years at 42%.  Only 17% of 18-24 year olds actually cast a ballot in the 2014 elections.  

We hope this is an opportunity for your high school to prepare students to be future voters in our community and participate as election workers at their local polling locations.  Civic participation is the responsibility of every citizen.  Be a productive, responsible, caring and contributing member of society!