Youth make impact on upcoming election
As Eudorans head to the polls Tuesday to decide the next local, state and national leaders, they will be greeted by a new generation of voters. They may not have an official say, but the new generation will get a head start at learning about voting with the Kids Voting program.
Kids Voting is a nationwide program that encourages children to participate in the voting experience on election day.
Roger Hill Volunteer Center manager Michelle Heller works with Kids Voting in Douglas County. She said this year was the first year for the program in Eudora. Accompanying the three official polling sites in town, there will be Kids Voting booths. Heller said having the program in a community has showed positive results in voter turnout in past elections.
"It brings discussion of community and national issues into the home and the classroom," Heller said. "It`s been found that in areas with kids voting, there`s 3-percent increase in parent voting."
Heller said much of the reason for better turnout is that children talk to parents about voting. As children express interest, parents often find themselves voting as well, she said.
Kindergarten and first grade students vote for the president only. Second grade through Seniors vote for President, Vice President and U.S. Representative. Grades fourth through eighth vote for on President, Vice President, U.S. Representative, the district attorney, sheriff, county clerk and register of deeds. Freshman through senior grades can vote on all of the prior, plus district court, court of appeals and constitutional questions.
Heller said the program also plants a seed for future voters.
"We feel that if children get into the habit early, they will feel that voting is their civil responsibility," Heller said.
After young voters cast their ballots, votes will be tallied at Lawrence High School. The results will be announced through local media.
In addition to getting young voters interested in the election, Eudora High students are participating. National Honor Society and the Future Business Leaders of America members will be working the polls.
NHS sponsor Bonnie Neis said the groups are working for community service. As people arrive, the workers will try to get non-voters to the polls. Approximately 23 students will aid in the event, Neis said.
"When non-voters come in with parents or whatever, they`re going to be encouraged to do some voting," Neis said. "I just think it`s important for our youth to experience all kinds of different work to help our community."