Students sought to enter votes

Students sought to enter votes

The Associated Press is hiring students to record presidential voting data on Election Day. A temporary vote entry center will be setup on the EWU Cheney campus, and students will be hired to take incoming phone calls from reporters located in precincts around the country with official poll data. This year, students will be receiving and entering 22 states’ poll information.

According to Dana Bloch, director of the AP Spokane data center, the first 230 students to line-up outside the PUB Multi Purpose Room on Nov. 3, 2012 at 8 a.m. will be hired on for $12 hourly.

A training and rehearsal session will be held on Nov. 3 in the MPR beginning at 8 a.m. and is expected to go until 1 p.m.

This session is to train students on how to use the software to enter in the votes, and receive practice phone calls from “stringers,” what the industry calls freelance reporters, that will be stationed across the U.S. on Election Day waiting for any poll information.

Work on election night, Nov. 6, will begin at 3 p.m. and continue until all votes have been recorded for the assigned 22 states.

EWU professor of communication studies Dr. Patty Chantrill has participated at all six vote entry centers that have been held at EWU and said, “It’s one of those events you will never forget.” Chantrill has always encouraged her students, as well as her daughter, to work at the centers. “This is going to be a résumé item that very few people will have,” Chantrill said. “At a job interview, you’re going to be able to say, ‘I worked at an election return project.’”

“It’s a fun experience. …it’s a part of history,” Chantrill added.

“Even though it’s a single event, it’s good to put on a résumé that you worked election 2012,” Bloch also noted. Some students who have worked at previous centers have been able to continue working for the AP covering other events. “Student resources are perfect for us.”

Chantrill’s daughter Ashley Waggoner, a second year communication studies major at EWU, has worked at the last three vote entry centers and described them as “the chance to be a part of something bigger. It makes me more politically aware of what’s going on in the rest of the country.”

Steve Blewett, EWU journalism professor emeritus, who has worked directly with AP in coordinating this event since 2000, said, “It’s good for students. They get the opportunity to participate in this. …any student in the university is eligible.”

According to Bloch, there are four locations in the U.S. where poll votes will be entered in for AP; of the four, EWU is the only university. The other three locations are in Spokane, Cranbury, N.J., and the AP headquarters in New York City.

“It’s good exposure for Eastern. People all over the northwest are made aware of the fact that Eastern is hosting this,” Blewett added.