Inside The Student-Run Voting Precinct At Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech junior Samuel Ellis will serve as poll manager for the precinct housed at the school’s McAmish Pavilion.

Emil Moffatt/WABE

Samuel Ellis remembers the June primary in Georgia.

The junior international affairs student at The Georgia Institute of Technology was the youngest poll worker in the room, by 30 years.

He remembers having only six other workers around him, helping more than 1,000 people slowly make their way through the voting process.

“Even though we had a two-hour long wait at my location the entire time, folks were still cheery, folks were still happy,” Ellis said. “This is a special thing we’ve got going on here, and it’s our jobs to be allies to it, to make it stronger.”

And so when the opportunity came for Georgia Tech to host an Election Day polling site, Ellis knew the team he wanted: his fellow students.

“I’m lucky to be here at Georgia Tech because you have talented students that are really curious about this,” said Ellis. “At the end of the day, when you tell a college student you’re going to make 350 bucks for a day’s work, they’re going to say yes.”

On Tuesday, Ellis will serve as poll manager. He’ll have two assistant managers and nine clerks. All are Georgia Tech students, and most worked the August primary alongside Ellis to get training and experience. It’s one of the only totally student-run polling sites in the U.S.

They’ll be working inside McAmish Pavilion, the school’s basketball arena. Sixteen voting machines and two ballot scanners will be set up in a large gathering space overlooking the basketball floor.

While early voting at the arena was open to any Fulton resident, including some Georgia Tech students who are registered to vote in the county, Tuesday’s site will be only for voters assigned to the precinct, meaning students will be providing a service to the wider community.

Ellis says he hopes working the polls will serve his fellow students well as they choose their career path after college.

“I hope that you’re going to take something away and put those skills to use that is not necessarily the typical career path of someone who wants to just make apps for the rest of their life or wants to be a really cool software developer,” said Ellis. “Poll technology is not the first thing they think of. Until they get stuck in a line on Election Day.”