High School Students
High school PEO programs can be an exciting way to bring new participants into the pool of potential PEOs. The students who participate in these programs tend to be reliable, enthusiastic, and effective. For the students, serving as a PEO both educates and encourages them to be lifelong participants in the democratic process. Counties that use high school students as PEOs have found the contributions of the students on Election Day to be invaluable.
There are a number of successful student PEO programs in place statewide and a number of ways to successfully integrate high school students into a PEO program. County boards of elections should reach out to high schools and educate eligible 17 and 18-year-old students about their ability to actively participate in the democratic process.
Why recruiting high school students is a valuable tool for county boards of elections:
- Students are very accessible to county boards of elections.
- Students often have a commitment to serve.
- Students are acclimated to a learning environment and can understand complex election procedures.
- Students are likely to be comfortable with technology.
- Students bring new energy to the election process.
Why serving as a PEO is a valuable experience for high school students:
- Students see democracy in action.
- Students earn a stipend while serving as a PEO.
- Students can use the experience to fulfill community service requirements.
- Students can add the experience to college and employment applications.
Steps to Recruiting High School Students:
1. Develop an Informational Packet to Send to High Schools
This packet should include all materials school administrators and teachers need to provide students with the information they need to understand the responsibilities of serving as a PEO. County boards of elections may customize many of materials available from the Secretary of State's office and develop other materials on their own as needed. Some recommended materials are:
Implementation Steps Handout (For the Program Administrator/Teacher)
This handout is a comprehensive checklist of steps that election officials, school administrators and students must successfully complete leading up to Election Day. A sample handout is available here.
This poster was created by the Secretary of State's office to be printed and displayed at each school. There are two sizes available:
High School Seniors FlyerKey Points Handout (For students and parents)
This flyer was created by the Secretary of State's office to be distributed to interested and eligible high school seniors. The PEO information included is standard, and all counties can use the flyer for promotional and recruitment purposes. This flyer is available here.
This handout describes the requirements and expectations of high school student PEOs and the criteria for their participation. A sample template created by the Secretary of State's office is available here. Each county board of elections should update this handout to include information specific to its county.
Student Application Form
Counties undertaking a high school student PEO recruitment program should develop an application form that includes a field in which the student must declare his or her political affiliation, as required by Revised Code Section 3501.22(C)(2)(b). Each student interested in serving as a precinct election official should complete an application form and submit it to the high school PEO program administrator, who must then submit all student applications to the county board of elections.
Parent/Guardian Permission and Notification Form
This multi-purpose form serves as both a parental permission form and a school authorization form for the student's absence from school for training and for serving as a PEO on Election Day. A sample template created by the Secretary of State's office is available here.
Voter Registration Form
Students who have not yet registered to vote may do so with this form. Students may register to vote if they will be 18 years old by the next General Election. If a student has already registered, the student should check the appropriate box on the "Parent/Guardian Permission and Notification Form" (see above). Schools may print the voter registration form or request copies of it here.
Important Dates to Remember Handout
This handout must be created by the county board of elections to include important dates such as the PEO recruitment deadline, training date(s), Election Day, etc.
2. Communicate Early with Schools' Decision Makers
County boards of elections should communicate with local school district superintendents and local high school principals, government teachers, National Honor Society advisors, and guidance counselors who work with students likely to be involved in their school and community.
An email template and letter template have been created to assist in making contact with decision makers at the schools. The email may be sent well in advance of trainings and elections and is intended to be a quick and free first point of contact. The county board of elections also may use the letter as a follow-up to the initial email contact.
A list of all public, community and non-public schools and addresses is available on the ODE website. Information available includes email addresses for all principals and superintendents of each school. To contact individual teachers and advisors, direct correspondence to those individuals so that the school can forward it to the correct person.
3. Promote the High School Recruitment Program
Website and Social Media Outreach
Most high school students are easily accessible using on-line tools, which are also very cost-effective. Ensure that schools provide website and social media information to their students by making the relevant links available. Once again, encourage interested students to request information from their schools.
- Post requests for assistance on your website.
- Post requests for assistance on your social media accounts and encourage a dialogue on these sites for further interaction. Be sure to make the posts fun and short.
Printed materials are also very useful. Encourage schools to distribute materials provided to them in their packets (see above).
Word of Mouth
One of the best methods for disseminating information will always be personal interaction. Encourage frequent dialogue between the county board or elections and school administrators, teachers, and parents about the opportunity to serve as a PEO.
4. Measure Your Success
Once the county board of elections has successfully started a high school student PEO program, evaluate the effectiveness of its recruitment efforts and the value of utilizing students as PEOs.
- Track the number of students who sign up through their schools.
- Follow up with students after they serve to hear their thoughts on the program and whether they would be willing to serve as a PEO in the future.
- Follow up with precinct judges on their impressions of the students' work.
- Follow up with school administrators and teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in their schools.