Students, Faculty Serve Communities on Election Day

Nov 16, 2020

They volunteered their time to serve as poll workers on Nov. 3.


Some members of the Cal U community answered the call for volunteers to work at polling stations on Nov. 3. As poll workers, they helped set up polling stations, checked voters in, explained procedures and directed them to their voting machines. 

“This year, volunteering to work the polls was more important than ever,” said Dr. Laura Tuennerman, a professor of history and director of the American Democracy Project at Cal U. 

“With COVID, a lot of regular poll workers, who are often seniors, didn’t want to risk working a public event,” she explains. 

Zachary Rice, a sophomore criminal justice major at Cal U, volunteered at a polling station in Upper St. Clair. “It was an incredible experience seeing in person how many people come out to exercise their right to vote for the leader of this great nation,” he says. 

This was his first year volunteering, and he worked a 14-hour day at the polls with his grandmother. “I would love to be a part of the election process when the next election comes if the opportunity arises,” he says. 

This was also Dr. Susan Morris-Rutledge’s first year volunteering as a poll worker. Inspired by a desire to contribute to her community and be a role model for her sons, she volunteered at a polling station in West Brownsville. 

“I was able to learn what the voting process looked like from a different perspective. I actually had a lot of fun, and I hope to volunteer again next year,” said Morris-Rutledge, a professor in the Department of Education who specializes in English as a second language. 

Dr. Patricia “Sam” Milford is a veteran poll worker who got involved a few years ago and has developed strong friendships with fellow volunteers. 

“I think people just don’t know how much fun it is to be at the polls,” said Milford, who volunteers at a polling station in Pittsburgh. 

On Election Day, she enjoys congratulating first-time voters and watching families come through the polling place. She’s particularly glad when parents bring their children. 

“I love the feeling that I have contributed to my community and democracy,” said Milford, a professor in Cal U’s Department of Culture, Media and Performance who specializes in communication studies and became a U.S. citizen in 2000.