Archive for Thursday, October 14, 2004

Advance voting for future electorate

Volunteers needed to help kids cast ballots Nov. 2

October 14, 2004

This Election Day, local polling sites will need poll workers to help with Eudorans not yet old enough to vote -- in the regular election, anyway.

Eudora students will be showing up at Eudora's four polling sites Nov. 2 to cast ballots in a special Kids Voting election, and the organization needs volunteers to help make that happen for USD 491 schoolchildren. As of Monday, Kids Voting volunteers were needed for all shifts at the Eudora Public Library, Eudora Township Fire Station and Eudora City Hall. The Eudora Church of Christ polling site has early morning and evening shifts open.

David Morrissey, manager of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center in Lawrence, said he expected Kids Voting polling sites to be the busiest during the 3 to 5:30 p.m. shift, when students dropped by with their parents after school. And getting parents to the polls is one goal of Kids Voting, Morrissey said.

As more communities, especially rural ones, catch on to the program, Morrissey said communities were seeing a greater voter turnout, especially among working parents.

"A lot of that is because the kids can vote, too," he said.

In addition to instruction in the classroom before Election Day, Morrissey said students had the opportunity to vote Nov. 2 for the candidates appearing on their parents' ballots. For younger voters, that can mean choosing the candidates from pictures, and for high school students that means being asked the same referendum questions put before their parents.

"That's why we're trying to encourage kids to go to the polling place their parents go to," Morrissey said. "Then the students are participating in the same election process their parents are."

That means a better chance for parents to talk about and educate students about the races, Morrissey said.

The Kansas chapter of Kids Voting USA is anticipating 230,000 student voters statewide in the Nov. 2 election. According to the chapter, Kansas has the largest program of any state except Arizona, where Kids Voting was piloted. Morrissey said Douglas County in particular was recognized for its turnout in Kids Voting elections, which take place every two years with national and mid-term elections.

He said volunteers Nov. 2 would be responsible for getting students signed in and giving them the correct ballots.

"Then the kids are really on their own to go to their table and vote," he said.

Volunteers make sure the ballots are properly placed in the ballot box and tally the results at the end of their shift. Volunteers at the day's final shift make sure the ballots make their way to the county's Kids Voting headquarters at Lawrence High School, where high school students will tabulate the results for the next news cycle.

"It's really exciting," Morrissey said of the quick feedback from the election.

Kids Voting polls are open during regular polling hours except between 9 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., when students are in class. Time slots to volunteer are from 6:45 to 9 a.m., from 2:45 to 5:30 p.m., and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Eudora polling sites are: Eudora Church of Christ, 1530 Winchester Road; Eudora City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.; Eudora Township Fire Station, 310 E. 20th St.; and Eudora Public Library, 114 E. Ninth St.

Those interested in volunteering can call Morrissey at the Roger Hill Volunteer Center at 865-5030. For more information about the program, visit www.kidsvotingkansas.com.

"I think this can be wonderful for retirees," Morrissey said. "It's a chance to interact with kids."

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