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Kids Voting USA

Early lessons in the election process

Early lessons in the election process

October 28, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Across the county, underage area students will have the opportunity to vote in a booth of their own on Election Day.

When parents go to vote Nov. 5 at local schools they'll have the opportunity to take their children to cast a ballot, and get a sticker, too.

Kids Voting USA, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, that is endorsed by the Washington County Board of Education, allows students to get a sneak peek behind the drawn election curtain.

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At Boonsboro High School, Karri Ernst, a Student Government Association advisor and government teacher, said her classes get sample ballots and discuss campaign platforms they read about in The Herald-Mail before Election Day.

She said her students are interested in voting and are very concerned about education. They want to see the schools improve, she said.

"The more the kids want to go (vote) the more it forces the parents to go," Ernst said.

Ernst said a lot of the votes cast by the town's children will reflect what their parents are telling them at home.

Ernst said she gives her students extra credit if they return the Wednesday after Election Day with an, "I voted" sticker.

She tells her students voting is a pretty painless procedure. Getting students out in the booths early is Kids Voting's main objective.

"Once they start they will get in the habit of going every year," she said.

At Conococheague Elementary School, Teresa Crowl, president of the Parent Teacher Association, said for smaller kids the little things about Election Day really get them excited.

"They love it," she said. "They think it's a big deal because they get the same sticker their parents get."

Crowl sets up the Kids Voting booths at Conococheague, where she said the children get the same ballots and pencils as adults, but have different-sized booths to vote in.

She said the results get taken to the Washington County Board of Education to be counted.

Kim Daniels, second grade teacher at Conococheague, said all different grade level teachers get Kids Voting lesson packets with instruction that varies according to what the children might be able to understand.

In grades kindergarten through second grade, students only vote for the governor and one other candidate, she said.

"We tell them their vote has power and that if they don't vote they might not get what they want," she said.

She said her students don't vote for county commissioners because they won't be able to understand what those public figures do.

Lori Baker, third grade teacher at Conococheague, said, "We talk about how they might find out about different candidates - do they watch the TV or read the paper because they can't look them up in the encyclopedia."

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