The Polling Place is led by the Board of Directors, which is comprised of four students, each in charge of a different “area”: website, outreach, social media, and research.

Karsen Wahal | Co-founder, Director of Website

Karsen is a freshman at Stanford University. He’s interested in politics, economics, and public policy. Karsen co-founded The Polling Place in August 2020, and has since led its national expansion. Through The Polling Place, he seeks to improve voter turnout and political efficacy, especially at the local level. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports, hiking, and playing with his dogs.

Madhura Shembekar | Co-founder, Director of Outreach

Madhura is a senior at BASIS Scottsdale High School. She’s interested in journalism, politics, and international affairs. Madhura is passionate about social justice initiatives that further equality in speech and debate and diversify school curriculums. She’s been studying Indian classical music for the last thirteen years. Through The Polling Place, she seeks to increase turnout among young voters. In her free time, she enjoys listening to Frank Ocean and running.

Jade Wang | Director of Social Media

Jade is a senior at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, CA. She’s interested in local government and investigative journalism. Jade loves to help out with local issues; she is working with Hayward City Council and passionate citizen activists to push for fair redistricting. Through The Polling Place, Jade hopes to improve voter education at the local level to ensure elected officials truly represent the population’s wants and needs. In her free time, Jade enjoys taking walks with her dog, listening to podcasts, and going on boba outings with her sister.

Ethan Ferrara | Director of Research

Ethan is a senior at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy. His interests include politics, history, and conservation. Through The Polling Place, Ethan hopes to make voting information accessible by working to compile research on thousands of political candidates. In his free time, Ethan likes to stay politically active, read, and spend time outdoors.

The Polling Place was founded in August 2020, by five students. Two of those students (Karsen Wahal and Madhura Shembekar) remain on the Board of The Polling Place. The other three can be seen below.

Anya Wahal | Co-Founder, Former Director of Outreach

Anya is a junior at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University studying Science, Technology, & International Affairs. Anya is a Research Fellow at the Mortara Center for International Studies, working on projects relating to urban spatial mapping and international development. She spearheads environmental and voter initiatives through the Georgetown Renewable Energy and Environmental Network. With The Polling Place, Anya hopes to advocate for the importance of voter accessibility & outreach. In her free time, she enjoys reading, journaling, and cooking with family.

Alicia Wu | Co-Founder, Former Director of Website

Alicia is a junior at Harvard University studying Statistics and Computer Science. She’s interested in creatively leveraging and visualizing data in entrepreneurship, product design, and social innovation. Previously, Alicia has led business development at a student-run user research startup, created tech roadmaps and data dashboards for industry clients at her campus consulting group, and published research on educational inequity. Through The Polling Place, she seeks to educate herself and others about local, less visible political races in Arizona. In her free time, she loves cooking, gouache painting, and dog spotting.

Anuka Upadhye | Co-Founder, Former Director of Social Media

Anuka is a junior at George Washington University studying International Affairs and Philosophy. Throughout her time in college, she seeks to understand how natural resource scarcity influences international and human security. She’s also interested in the intersection between ethics, morality, and international affairs. Anuka currently works at Blue Knot Strategies, a political firm that provides strategic solutions for women and minorities running for office. She hopes that The Polling Place will create more informed voters and ultimately strengthen democracy. Aside from academics, Anuka enjoys tennis and photography.