U.S. Election Assistance Commission awards $80,000 grant to UNT

Thursday, October 21, 2004

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The United States Election Assistance Commission awarded an $80,000 grant to the University of North Texas to implement programs that will encourage students enrolled at Dallas, Denton and Tarrant county institutions of higher education to assist in the administration of the upcoming federal, state and local government elections.

UNT was one of only 15 EAC awardees in the nation -- and the only one in Texas to receive funds from the pool of $745,000 available for the EAC's Help America Vote College Poll Worker Program.

According to UNT's grant recipients Dr. Elizabeth With, assistant vice president for Student Development, and Rey Rodriguez Jr., associate vice chancellor for Governmental Relations, UNT will use the funds to recruit students to serve as nonpartisan poll workers and assistants.

UNT's $80,000 grant -- the second largest grant awarded and the largest regional grant -- already is funding a student poll worker recruitment website that provides links to every county election website in Texas. The UNT program is placing special emphasis on seeking students who understand computer technology and who are fluent in English and Spanish or Vietnamese.

With said the aim of the program is to train hundreds of students to become poll workers.

According to Rodriguez, because the age of the average poll worker today is approximately 72, this is an excellent way to get younger people involved in the political process.

The EAC is an independent bipartisan agency authorized by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to serve as "...a national clearinghouse and resource for the comparison of information" on various matters involving the administration of federal elections.

The 2000 Election has a shortage of poll workers and it is estimated that more than 2 million poll workers will be needed for this year's Election Day -- Nov. 2.

EAC Commissioner Ray Martinez III noted that one of the greatest challenges facing election officials throughout the country is having sufficient numbers of poll workers.

"Since the legal voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1971 by the 26th Amendment, we've seen a steady decline in the number of voters under the age of 25," he said. "As a result, one important aim of the college grants program is to bring large numbers of young voters into the process this year as poll workers and as assistants taking on various tasks at the polling places.

"We hope the work college students do to ensure a smooth and fair election this year will encourage them to stay engaged in the political process after the election," Martinez added.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108