Greenwood High School student wins Secretary of State’s essay contest

One Greenwood High School student was recognized at the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen tournament for his essay on recruiting poll workers for the upcoming election.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:35 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Secretary of State, Michael Adams, recently announced the four winners of his office’s annual essay contest, and one Greenwood High School student stood out among the rest.

Cayden Bailey, a junior at Greenwood High School, was recognized for his essay and received his award at the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen tournament, along with the other winners from across the Commonwealth. The essay prompt, “How can Kentucky Recruit More Poll Workers?” drew in over 100 submissions to the Secretary of State’s office.

Secretary Adams said, “It takes about 15,000 volunteers to run an election in Kentucky. It’s a major undertaking, and we can’t rely on the government to do this. It takes volunteers, so I’m really excited to see these young people stepping up with their ideas.”

In Bailey’s essay, he lays out a plan to revolutionize the call for poll workers during elections, with the use of social media campaigns, partnerships with area schools and universities, and by offering free training sessions to those interested in serving as poll workers.

In his essay, Bailey says, “By taking a proactive and creative approach to recruiting poll workers, Kentucky can set an example for other states and demonstrate its commitment to ensuring that every election is well-staffed and runs smoothly.”

Bailey says that this is not the first time that he’s noticed issues with how Kentucky currently recruits poll workers. At the root of the problem, he has noticed a lack of enthusiasm to volunteer for polls.

“I’ve gone to the polls with my parents ever since I was a little kid, and I’ve always noticed that the poll workers kind of seem a little sad like they don’t want to be there,” said Bailey. “They’re just doing it for pocket cash. So when I saw the prompt, I’m like, “that’s a really big problem that Kentucky has.”

Secretary Adams says that his office has worked to incentivize volunteering for polls by working with businesses to recognize election day as a paid holiday. He believes that the effect will already be seen during the May primary election.

“We’ve done a lot of little things, and they add up. So, fortunately, we’ve been able to open polls that might be closed otherwise,” said Secretary Adams, “so, what you’re going to see in this May election is a bigger presence of voting locations than we had in November.”

To register to vote, or to volunteer as a poll worker, Secretary Adams encourages all Kentuckians to visit his office’s website.