More than 600 Fairfax County high school students will be spending Election Day, Nov. 6, working long hours at most of our 243 poll locations. They are participating in our county’s High School Election Page Program and although too young to vote, they will have a big impact on Election Day.
Listen to students from James Madison and South County high schools talk about why they are pages this year.
After a pilot program in the City of Fairfax in 1999, the Virginia General Assembly established in the Code of Virginia in 2000 that jurisdictions could provide opportunities for high school students to assist election officers in the polls on Election Day. Fairfax County began participating in the program that same year and has had more than 5,000 pages in the last 18 years.
Students must meet one of two criteria to apply:
- Enrolled in a high school government class.
- At least 16 years old and fluent in English (mandatory) and also fluent in one of the following languages – Spanish, Vietnamese or Korean.
The students are required to attend a two-hour training on what they need to do on Election Day. Topics include the arrangement of the voting equipment and other materials for the conduct of the election, how to assist voters with special needs and election procedures.
According to Beth Methfessel, Fairfax County’s page program coordinator, the 2018 class is the largest to date, with 635 applicants. More than 30 percent of the students are bilingual or trilingual.
“Young people, 18 to 25 years old, are often our age group with the lowest voter turnout,” said Methfessel. “This program enables them to participate in an election and learn more about the process. We hope that through this civic engagement they will register to vote when they turn 18 and vote in upcoming elections.”
An added bonus for the county, according to Methfessel, is that many pages have come back when they are older to become election officers.
Our high school pages just took their oath and are picking up Election Day assignments. pic.twitter.com/AoSA9WMT3p
— Fairfax County Votes (@fairfaxvotes) October 20, 2018