First Judge program sees numbers climb

October 29, 2002
Press Release

The number of high school students serving as election judges on November 5 will reach 600, the highest in the First Judge program’s four-year history, Cook County Clerk David Orr announced.

Through the First Judge program, high school students not of voting age serve as election judges and share the same responsibilities as their older counterparts, including opening polling places, supervising voting, instructing voters about proper voting techniques, and counting votes after the polls close.

"Through our teen democracy programs young people learn firsthand about the election process instead of through a textbook," Orr said. "They also are very valuable in helping increase the pool of potential election judges."

The 1999 consolidated election marked the debut of the First Judge program, in which 34 students served as election judges. The number of student judges jumped to 267 in the March 2000 primary and has continued to increase each year.

Under law, in order for a student under age 18 to become an election judge, principals from participating high schools must nominate the students and parents must give their permission. Eligible teens also need to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average and demonstrate an interest in the political process.

Student election judges receive the same training and pay — $150 for working Election Day and attending a training session — as adult judges.

In addition to the First Judge program, the Clerk’s office has established two other school programs designed to get young adults involved: the Mock Election program, which allows students to cast demonstrator ballots for candidates vying for national and state offices; and the First Voter program, which train 18-year-olds as deputy registrars.

For additional information on the Clerk’s teen democracy programs, call (312) 603-0987.

For additional information, call the Clerk’s election information hotline at (312) 603-0906.