Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Kids Voting comes to Kenton Co.




By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Will Eifert is going to vote for George W. Bush on Nov. 7.

        The 11-year-old sixth-grader at St. Augustine School likes Mr. Bush's stance on abortion and education.

        “Whoever is elected president this year is going to make a difference because we have all these problems around the world,” Will said.

        Will is among thousands of Kenton County students headed to the polls next month. As part of Kids Voting USA, all Kenton County public and parochial schools are encouraging students to cast ballots alongside their parents.

        Thousands of Southwest Ohio students have participated in Kids Voting for the past few years. This year, several Kenton

        County businesses are leading the effort here.

        Students will go to official polling sites on Election Day and vote in their own booths next to the adults. They'll be voting for president; in their congressional races; and on the state constitutional amendment for annual assemblies.

        Kids Voting Kenton County plans to tally the ballots that night.

        Kids Voting USA is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization working with more than 6,000 schools nationwide. The hope is that if kids get excited about voting now, they'll vote when they're older.

        “I want (students) to become more informed and more analytical, and this may help spur that on,” said Neil Stiegelmeyer, executive director of Kids Voting Kenton County and a retired superintendent of Kenton County Schools.

        The Kentucky group is hunting for volunteers to man the Kids Voting booths and count the ballots. More than 300 people are needed at the 104 polling sites, said Dolores Parker of Fidelity Investments, which initiated the Kenton County program. And since school is out on Election Day, the group also is recruiting high school juniors and seniors to help.

        Each school received a Kids Voting curriculum, which has lessons on election topics such as debates, polling and the electoral college.

        The presidential race has been a hot topic with Will and his peers in Sister Mary Lourita Warken's class. The students watched the first presidential debate, analyzed the campaign issues and studied the election process.

        St. Augustine eighth-grader Rachael Meier, 13, said she'd like the candidates to take a clearer stand on some of the issues.

        “I'm not sure how to vote. I really don't like either of them,” she said. “Bush is riding on his father's name, but Gore has a bad name because of the whole Clinton thing.”

        “(Candidates) just make promises, and then we find out what they can really do,” Will said.

        To volunteer or for more information, call Mr. Stiegelmeyer at 283-2770 or Ms. Parker at 386-7018.

       



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