Standing in front of a sea of voting machines, three girls from Monongahela Middle School examine the different components such as security mechanisms, tampering seals and disability compliance tools. The warehouse holds 550 voting machines, serving approximately 200,000 registered voters in Gloucester County. This information and so much more is what these girls will take away on Job Shadowing Day.
Participating in Job Shadowing Day for about five years, the Gloucester County Board of Elections opens its doors Monongahela students every year for this day-in-the-life event.
“It’s nice to host them,” says Superintendent of Elections Stephanie Salvatore. “It’s a good change of pace.”
Starting at 10 a.m. in the morning, eighth-graders Jewel Irvin, Daviece Satterfield and Delilah Roman are shown that operations do not slow down after elections—in fact, there is plenty to do year-round.
“It’s every day,” says Salvatore. “It doesn’t just stop in November.”
One of the many year-round jobs the board undertakes is the constant processing of signatures. Satterfield explains that although she had some knowledge of the election process beforehand, she had no idea how vital the signature component was to the board.
Signatures are updated for every registered voter every year. While the board may use signatures from the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) for newly registered voters, the rest of the signatures are scanned in from the books—which are signed by every voter who participates in an election. With a side by side comparison, poll workers can verify a voter’s identity by comparing their signature from previous years to their current—a system that works pretty effectively.
Out of the 200,000 registered voters in Gloucester County, Salvatore says she may have had two identity questions in this past election. She explains that if there is a major discrepancy in handwriting, poll workers can ask for ID as a means of verification—which she says usually resolves any issues. Acknowledging that handwriting may change for people throughout their life, Salvatore explains it is imperative to have the most current signature on file.
As it neared noon, the girls prepared letters for those who needed to resubmit a signature to the board. Salvatore says this is usually the case when the board receives an unreadable signature or half signature from the MVC.
“I think it’s cool,” says Irvin as she busies herself preparing letters.
Irvin is still unsure of what career she will enter after school, but is kicking around chemistry.
Even if a career with the board of elections is not for the girls, Salvatore is still interested to hear their thoughts future plans.
“You never know where you are going to end up,” she says.
Most importantly, Salvatore encourages the girls to vote in the future. While they're not old enough yet, they will be of age when the next presidential election rolls around. Salvatore stresses to the girls that voting determines so much more than just the presidency.
In addition to the Gloucester County Board of Elections, some students from Monongahela Middle School also visited the Gloucester County Department of Senior Services and Disability Services on Budd Road in West Deptford. Students were also brought to the Gloucester County Health Department to work in nursing, environmental health and health education as part of Job Shadowing Day.