February 5, 2013
CONTACT: Terri McCoy, (406) 444-2807
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch Urges Legislature to Allow
Montana Students to Serve as Election Judges
HELENA – Montana Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch is urging the Legislature to allow Montana students to serve as election judges at polling places and on various counting and election boards. McCulloch testified on Tuesday in favor of HB327, as sponsored by Representative Frankie Wilmer (HD63).
“This bill addresses the critical shortage of election judges across the state by enabling Montana’s future generations to become engaged and active citizens,” McCulloch said. “By allowing 16 and 17-year-olds the opportunity to serve as election judges, this Legislature will not only help to minimize the crowds on Election Day, it will be providing an exceptional civic experience to Montana students.”
Currently, 39 states allow high school students to serve as election judges. In Montana, all judges have to attend hands-on training conducted by the Election Administrator before serving as a judge. HB327 requires the same training for student election judges and written consent from the student’s parent or guardian, and school, when applicable.
“Montana’s teenagers are comfortable working with the technology and equipment necessary for running elections,” McCulloch said. “This promising generation was born in the digital age, and they learn quickly. I have every confidence they are capable of carrying out election duties at the polls.”
HB327 is an optional solution for counties experiencing a shortage in election judges, as it provides Election Administrators the choice of whether or not to allow student judges at their polling places. The bill prevents student judges from serving as the Chief Elections Judge, even in counties where student judges are permitted.
“There are many young adults who would treasure the opportunity to participate in the elections process, but perhaps don’t know how to get started,” McCulloch said. “This bill gives them the chance to get involved and make a difference in their community and state.”
HB327 received its first hearing before the House State Administration Committee on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.