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Kids pledge to go to the polls with their parents

September 26, 2000

Kids pledge to go to the polls with their parents



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

National Kids Voting DayBOONSBORO - Waving small American flags, about 160 fifth-graders from Boonsboro and Sharpsburg elementary schools pledged Tuesday to go to the polls with their parents and vote on Nov. 7.

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In recognition of National Kids Voting Day, speakers pumped up the students with patriotic speeches on the importance of the voting process at a celebration at Boonsboro Elementary School.

"Get out there and vote, and be sure to take your parents with you," said Carolyn Shaw, chairwoman of Kids Voting Maryland/Washington County and an Allegheny Energy manager. The power company is the corporate sponsor for the program in Washington County.

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For the third time since 1996, the Kids Voting program was held to encourage students to head to the polls with their parents on Election Day.

"We can make a difference and it's fun," said Jared Ferguson, 10, a Boonsboro fifth-grader.

His classmate, Nick Moreland, 10, was less impressed with his first voting experience.

"It was not that exciting - you have to vote in a cardboard box," Nick said.

Frank Clopper, the Kids Voting project manager and former Allegheny Energy employee, said the youngsters have their own voting booths. When their parents disappear behind the curtained booths, the youths have their own booths with three sides and a writing surface made of cardboard.

"The whole process emulates the adult process," Clopper said. "We want the children to know there is nothing to be afraid of."

Students fill out their ballots, which are placed in a box and tabulated at the end of the day. The results of the kids' election will be ready when the official results from Washington County are in.

About 500 volunteers will staff the 43 polling places in the county to assist with the children's ballots.

More than 15,000 students in Washington County have participated in Kids Voting elections since 1996, said Guy Fletcher, a spokesman for Allegheny Energy.

Nationwide, Kids Voting sent to the polls a half million voters who would not have gone had it not been for their children, Clopper said.

"It is real important for the students to understand at a young age the importance of voting. We will encourage our students to get out and vote," said Boonsboro Principal Melissa Warren.

Teachers are explaining to their classes the voter registration process, how to fill out a ballot and who the candidates are.

During the celebration, some students got to read their wishes for the future of the country before hanging the ornaments on "wishing trees."

"I wish no one was homeless and starving and that we all get along," read Boonsboro fifth-grader Hannah Crosby, 10.

Other wishes were for elected officials to "stop people from dumping things in the ocean," as well as for world peace and an end to poverty.

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