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Your child can cast a vote, too

November 02, 2000

Your child can cast a vote, too

Teaching your child | Lisa Tedrick Prejean


When you go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, your kids can vote, too.

Kids Voting USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots voter education program, will have ballots at area polling places so kids as young as kindergarteners can cast their votes along with their parents. In Washington County, the program is funded by Allegheny Energy.

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"The goal is to increase parental voting," says Charles Holder, a social studies teacher at Williamsport High School.

There will be two levels of "booths," one for little children and one for older children, Holder says.

All students will be able to vote for president, Senate and House of Representatives. There are photos of these candidates for children who can't read yet.

Grades four through twelve will also be able to vote for Washington County Board of Education members.

High schoolers will vote on two constitutional amendments and on whether the student representative to the Board of Education should be able to vote on school policies and issues.

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The results of local kids' votes will be published Wednesday, Nov. 8, in The Herald-Mail.

Launched in Phoenix in 1988 to fight voter apathy, Kids Voting USA provides teachers with lesson ideas, many of which were used in local classrooms, according to Ed Koogle, supervisor of secondary education for Washington County public schools.

Chris Mellott, a music teacher at Clear Spring and Funkstown elementary schools, says the voting information was used in several subjects.

Students had rallies, parades and learned songs about the importance of voting.

Five concepts have been taught in the schools, says Andrew Ernst, a third-grade teacher at Clear Spring Elementary School:

  • My vote gives me power.
  • I have a right and responsibility to vote.
  • I study the candidates and issues.
  • I register and vote.
  • I continue to make a difference.


Ernst, Mellott, Holder and Koogle make these recommendations for parents:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> To teach your child how a democracy works, make a "voting chain," where each vote cast by a family member becomes a link on a paper chain. When everyone has voted, the longest chain is the winning activity.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Tell your child that one vote can make a difference.

In 1776, one vote made English America's language instead of German.

In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the union.

In 1960, an average of one vote per precinct elected John F. Kennedy president.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Explain how it's important to weigh the issues before deciding on a candidate. Which candidates are the most in line with your family's values?

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Vote. If you make it a habit, your children will likely follow suit when they are adults.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Keep tabs on the winning candidates, whether or not your candidates win. Are these people doing a good job?

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