Tuesday, November 07, 2000

Kids can vote, too

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Separate ballots will be available today at hundreds of precincts all over the Tristate — just for kids.

        The ballots go beyond choices for president and political races and allow youngsters to register their feelings on school lunch menus, school safety and drug testing.

        Sponsored by Kids Voting USA, the program is a nonpartisan effort to interest kids in the democratic process. While their parents vote in the real election, school-age kids can mark separate ballots that will be counted tonight.

        “Kids Voting prepares children to be informed, lifelong voters,” said Jeanne Rolfes, executive director of Kids Voting of Southwest Ohio. “It's a program that aims to overcome the voter apathy that plagues our country right now by making children feel a part of the process. It gives them some ownership and commitment for future voting opportunities.”

        Kids can look for Kids Voting signs at hundreds of precincts in Hamilton, Cler mont, Butler and Kenton counties.

        Southwest Ohio ballots vary according to location, but students will vote for national, state and local candidates. They'll also vote on the proposed state constitutional amendment to issue bonds for environmental conservation and revitalization projects.

        They'll have a chance to vote on school tax issues, where applicable.

        In addition, kids selected three opinion issues to appear on the ballot:

        • Should students choose school lunch menus?

        • Do students feel safe in school?

        • Should schools do random drug testing?

        In Kenton County, students will vote on presiden tial and congressional races and the proposed Kentucky state constitutional amendment to establish annual legislative sessions.

        Kids Voting allows families to vote together and can spark discussions about political issues, said Neil Stiegelmeyer, executive director of Kids Voting Kenton County. It also can increase voter turnout now as well.


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