High schooler Taizea Secrease has been volunteering at Harris County polling locations since the primaries in March. 

It’s clear from Harris County’s record-breaking turnout and the seemingly hundreds of “I Voted” selfies on your Instagram feeds this election season that Houstonians are enthusiastic about voting. 

However, some of the most passionate about the country’s future—teenagers—are ineligible to cast a ballot, but that hasn’t stopped them from exercising their civic duty. High-schoolers from across the Houston area have stepped up to make their voices heard by volunteering at the polls. 

Taizea Secrease, 17, is a current senior at Cypress Creek High School, looking to join the Navy after graduation. She became a poll volunteer during the primaries last March after being approached by her ROTC instructor. 

“I have a passion for helping people however I can, so when my teacher brought the opportunity to me, I said sure,” says Secrease. Soon, she found an affinity for the excitement voters brought to the polls and discovered that same excitement within herself. 

“I love when the lines are packed and I can meet all these people excited to vote,” says Secrease. “After working the primaries, I was like, ‘How do I do this every time there’s a need for this?’ If this were a full-time job, I would apply, because I have a passion for it.” 

High schoolers can get trained to man the polls in Harris County at age 16, provided they are enrolled in school full-time and have the consent of both their legal guardians and school principal. During this election season, Secrease begins work at the polls every morning at 6:30 a.m. before school. However, she says the work is far from a chore, since she greatly enjoys forming friendships with other volunteers, most of whom are several decades her senior. 

“It’s an escape for me whenever I’m dealing with something, and I can go in there and talk to all those people,” she says. “I like getting to know them and getting their advice about things.” 

For many like Secrease, volunteering at the polls is the catalyst of a larger drive for civic engagement. “I think this job made me realize I have the right and power to make a change,” she says. 

Finally, Secrease has a few words of advice: “Get up and vote. If you have that ability, do it."

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