COLUMBIA — As students studied for upcoming exams at Memorial Union Tuesday night, a group of about 20 students met in a small corner room.
They were there to listen to Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren discuss registering to vote and how to become election judges. The students, members of Mizzou Change Today, were having a regular meeting and gearing up for the start of election season. The group's president, Roshaunda McLean, said group members are planning to become pollworkers.
January 11 to vote in the presidential primary on February 7
March 7 to vote in the General Municipal election on April 3
July 11 to vote in the primary election on August 7
Oct. 10 to vote in the general election on Nov. 6
According to Noren, in 2008, 40 percent of Boone County pollworkers were students.
"The problem is they've all graduated," Noren said. "I need young people."
Noren began the meeting by informing students that not only is 2012 an election year, but the 40th anniversary of 18-year-olds gaining the right to vote. She went on to describe what students would be doing as they register voters and what common problems they should be aware of.
Many errors seem small, like when people write the current year as their date of birth, but these errors can lead to the registration process taking longer than necessary.
Pollworkers must also know what is required to register. You must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be a Missouri resident
- Be at least 17 1/2-years-old (18 to vote)
- Not be adjudged incapacitated by a court of law
- Not be confined under a sentence of imprisonment
- Not be on probation or parole after conviction of a felony
- Not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor connected with the right of suffrage
Before receiving a ballot, voters must provide current and valid photo ID or a current utility bill, bank statement or government document that shows the voter's name and address.
People with disabilities, members of the military and overseas voters do not need to provide ID before receiving a ballot.
Pollworkers earn between $120 and $150 per election. When registering, voters can check the box indicating they are interested in working.
Pollworkers also make sure voters' addresses are up-to-date.
"It's a constant process trying to keep people's addresses updated," Noren said.
Noren stressed that voters should keep their registration receipt.
While Missouri voters cannot register online, they can enter their information and generate their application at showmeboone.com/clerk. This can then be printed and mailed to the clerk's office. Noren said this has a much higher rate of data accuracy compared to handwritten applications.
Along with becoming pollworkers, McLean said Mizzou Change Today has been putting up posters around the MU campus to get students thinking about registering to vote. Group members will go to Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs) to register students to vote and from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 will be walking around the Student Center registering students.
"You do this, you take on a responsibility," Noren said. "This is people's right to vote you're dealing with."