Old voting booths never die — they just go to local schools to help young voters of the future learn about participating in the electoral process.
At least that is the intention of county Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald.
As technology has changed, and more citizens cast their ballots by mail, Rodewald has sought to find a useful home for the obsolete equipment.
Instead of just dumping them at the landfill, Rodewald sent letters to local school districts to see if they might be interested in using the booths for civics classes or to hold student elections.
She has found a slew of takers and is looking for more.
“The response was overwhelming,” Rodewald said. “Not only high schools, but junior high and grade schools from across the county began accepting the booths.”
In an e-mail, she wrote, “We had requests for about 35 booths from our first letter, and we have at least 70 remaining.”
One of the recipients is Geoff Land, student body adviser at Paso Robles High School, who took booths eagerly for use in both mock elections and student body elections.“One of our missions is to promote student participation in civic life,” he wrote Rodewald. “Your booths would help to strengthen our school’s efforts to include students in local decision-making and elections.”
Land said he “might try setting up the booths in November for the midterm elections.”The school would include the House and Senate races, along with any other relevant state, county or local decisions.
“We would also coordinate with the senior government classes in terms of pre-election education on the candidates and issues,” Land wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune.
Janet Gould, a teacher at Del Mar Elementary School in Morro Bay, said she also has some of the voting booths and is planning to use them.
Rodewald wrote that, from her perspective, “having students become better aware of the voting process will help them understand its significance and hopefully increase voter participation in the future.”
She said she has “plenty of booths remaining” and suggested that interested parties contact her office at 781-5080.