Should teens be allowed to work as poll workers on Election Day?
For the past several years, New Jersey has had a shortage of poll workers on Election Day.
Legislation — A4906 — is advancing that would permit New Jersey residents between the ages of 16 and 18 to be employed as election workers.
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, said besides providing more election workers “it gets kids involved in the democratic process and interested in being involved in civic responsibility.”
He said being a poll worker for a day would be a valuable experience for kids.
“I think it will remind them how lucky we are to have the right to vote in our democracy," he said. “It might remind them of the sacrifices made by veterans of the United States armed forces, all gave some, some gave all so that these kids today can enjoy that right.”
If a teenager was interested in becoming a Election Day worker he or she might miss school that day, (some districts close their schools) but Mukherji does not believe this should be a problem.
“I’m not so sure that kids pushing the limit on the maximum number of days they can miss are going to be looking to show up and work the polls on Election Day,” he said. “It’s going to be up to the parents to let them do it. When my kid turns 16 I’d let him play hooky for a day to go work the polls.”
Mukherji said teens would be paid the going rate, which is currently $200 for the day.
He pointed out this is not a ground-breaking proposal.
“In certain capacities, we allow minors that age to work other jobs so long as they’re not being exploited," he said,
The Assembly Labor Committee has given the green light to the measure, which will now be considered by the Assembly in the coming weeks.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com