Students learn how to vote

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

A week before the gubernatorial election, the office of the Bristol Registrar of Voters hosted mock elections at Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern high schools.

Donna Swarts, a poll worker and volunteer for the office of the registrar, oversaw the process at Bristol Eastern. Swarts said events such as this give students the opportunity to learn about the polling process, and shows them that it’s “not as hard as they might think.”

Bristol Eastern senior Tyler Dubois participated as a volunteer poll worker, and thought the process was “pretty organized.”

“There’s a lot of policies in place for ballots, so they don’t go missing. I didn’t really know anything about that until now, so, it’s an interesting process.,” said Dubois. “I thought it was going to be a little bit mild to boring, but, it’s actually quite interesting.”

Swarts worked in conjunction with Jeffrey Fleischman, chair of the BEHS social studies department.

The event coincided with the department’s plan of covering the election of a new governor, senators, and congressman, said Fleischman. He said it was important for all of the students to experience voting through an authentic voting experience.

Bristol Eastern senior, Marisa Drzewiecki, said her AP Government class taught her many things about voting and the ballot process, but still learned something new during the mock election.

“I didn’t know there were so many other parties that were added in that you could make yourself, you just had to get petitions,” said Drzewiecki. “I knew there were state senators, state representatives, secretary of state, I didn’t know there was a comptroller – I actually didn’t know what that was – and judge of probate, so I actually learned that, and how there’s questions on the ballot, I didn’t know there were questions.”

Some of the issues that helped guide her choices were “issues regarding shootings and gun control” and “sexual harassment issues.”

Mary Greger, assistant registrar, and Daniel Micari, a poll moderator, oversaw the election at Bristol Central.

Micari said the goal of the mock election is to give students a real life polling experience, to help eliminate some of anxiety that comes with voting for the first time.

Nathan Rentas, a senior at Central, said he was confused when looking at the ballot because he didn’t know who some of the candidates were. And, while he wasn’t old enough to vote in this election, he said he would vote in future elections if he “learned how” to do so.

Elijah Caceres and Izayha Patterson, both juniors at BCHS, worked as poll volunteers, which allowed them to receive community service hours for their civics classes.

Patterson, who believes that voting is “very important for our country, so, we can make some changes and… live in a peaceful world,” said that his votes would align with a candidate that he felt he can “agree with the most.”

Caceres said the ballot and the voting process was “pretty straightforward” and something that “a lot more people should be doing.”

“People complain about, like, they need a change, but, they don’t get up and do anything about it,” said Caceres. “We have the power in this country… that’s why I think people should vote.”

The issues that Caceres thought would help direct his vote were gun control, economic plans, road maintenance, healthcare, and taxes.

And just like going to an actual polling location, both high schools were outfitted with voting accessibility setups, that are accessible to those with disabilities, such as a laptop and headphones for the visually impaired, or like at BCHS, a privacy booth with a lower table surface for those who may use a wheelchair.

Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com

Mary Greger, right, shows Tikylah Spencer where to sign in at the mock election at Bristol Central High School last Tuesday. (JANELLE MORELLI PHOTO)

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