Juneau's students will have a chance to have their voices heard on Election Day. As part of the nonpartisan Kids Voting program, public, private and home-schooled students will be able to vote at precincts with their parents on Nov. 2.
Since 1996, Kids Voting Juneau has provided a civic education curriculum that culminates in a hands-on experience as students vote at precincts throughout the borough. "Many graduates of the program who participated from the time they were in middle school are now voting as adults. They have an ingrained habit of participatory citizenship, a goal of the program," said Marjorie Menzi, Kids Voting chairwoman. She also noted a "trickle-up" effect of the program documented by Kids Voting USA when adults, who might not otherwise vote, are taken to the polls by their children.
Using the Kids Voting on-line curriculum, students study constitutional rights and responsibilities, learn about candidates and issues and the ways they can continue to make a difference as citizens. They are encouraged to discuss the election with family members and then cast Kids Voting ballots that mirror the official ballots. Kids Voting booths are manned by volunteer individuals and organizations in Juneau's designated polling places.
This year the Juneau-Douglas High School student council will also sponsor a Kids Voting precinct at the high school.
A student media team is being trained by current and former local journalists including Betsy Brenneman, Larry Persily, Elizabeth BLuemink and Mark Kelley. The media team wrote and recorded radio public service announcements and will produce articles, radio reports and photographs on Election Day activity and report Kids Voting vote results to the local media.
The program has received widespread support from the community. This year's sponsors are the League of Women Voters of Alaska, Wells Fargo, the City and Borough of Juneau Youth Activities fund, and the Juneau School District. Other major supporters include Elgee, Rehfeld and Mertz, and Sealaska Corporation.
For more information on the program and to volunteer at a precinct, contact Doreen Shaw, Kids Voting coordinator, at 364-2520. Also, check out Kids Voting Juneau at www.jsd.k12.ak.us/district/kids_voting/index.html, wwwkidsvotingusa.org, and and www.juneauempire.com/elections.