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Mariner students tour Lee County Elections Center

By Staff | Feb 3, 2011

Students from the life skills class at Mariner High School received a tour of the Lee County Election Center in Fort Myers Thursday and Friday to reinforce what they learned in their classroom during the month of January.
Life skills teacher Carla Jerdan explained that every month her students focus on a different theme, which involves various activities every week.
Jerdan said the life skills class will check out books from the library, learn four or five vocabulary words, along with visiting a location that further highlights that month’s theme.
Since the students studied history and government for their theme in January, Jerdan said a tour of the Lee County Election Center only made sense.
Supervisor of Elections for Lee County Sharon Harrington guided eight students through the 56,000-square-foot Election Center Thursday that showcased the poll worker classrooms, the Absentee Department, the early voting room, the branch office, along with the warehouse.
Harrington said she hopes the tour will let the students know that it takes a lot of work and preparation to have a successful election.
She explained that the training and storage area makes up the largest portion of the building that opened a little before the 2004 election.
Before the tour began, she first provided an explanation of her position, which is a four-year term elective position that it is up in 2012.
The students then were told how old they had to be in order to register and vote for an election.
“When you are 17 you can register to vote and when you’re 18 you can vote,” Harrington said.
The students were also informed that 1,800 to 2,000 poll workers are brought in during a general election to man the 171 precincts in Lee County.
Harrington then brought the handful of Mariner High students into the early voting room, so the students would have the opportunity to see the various voting tools used during an election, along with casting their vote on some of the equipment.
Public relations director Vicki Collins showed the students a piece of equipment that allows individuals to listen to the ballot rather than reading it. The piece of equipment grabbed the attention of Justin Winings, a student who had the opportunity to follow the steps in filling out a ballot by listening to a recorded voice.
Harrington also showed the students another room that was filled with desks and phones that is utilized during an election. She explained that people are stationed in the room to answer the phone from the poll workers at the precincts. They log all of their calls, so staff can monitor the problems. The incident is then handled immediately, Harrington said, so they can be on top of the problem.
Jerdan explained that a tour of the center helped reinforce her class instruction because it provided her students with the opportunity to practice what they learned in the classroom.
Betty Alt, helping teacher for the life skills class, said the tour of the facility showed the students that even people with disabilities can vote.
“They learn about the voting process through a more hands-on experience,” she said. “They learn about the unexpected.”