Kids Voting is well worth local support |

Kids Voting is well worth local support

The hoopla has started in earnest now for the election of 2004. But in spite of the miles of newsprint devoted to candidates and issues, many Americans will ignore their civic duty and fail to vote.

The lowest voter turnout is among those newly enfranchised: voters 18 to 21 years old. Just one in five is expected to vote.

Richard Doran and a national program, Kids Voting USA, aim to change that rate, at least for young people in Garfield County.

The program introduces school kids to voting, starting in kindergarten. Using a separate ballot, they vote on the same candidates and issues as grown-ups. They must register ahead of time, and they vote at the same precinct polling places as their parents.

If kids get excited about voting, more parents will vote, too. In communities with the program, voter turnout has jumped by 5 to 10 percent.

For the past four elections, Doran and community volunteers have made Kids Voting come alive for students in Parachute and Battlement Mesa. Now, Doran is ready to expand the program to schools from Rifle to Basalt.

School district officials are on board, as is Garfield County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf.

And why not? Kids Voting is a real -life civics lesson that will make kids comfortable with the whole election process, from campaign rhetoric to casting a ballot. When they turn 18 and register for real, voting will be familiar and they will understand how important it is.

And if some of that excitement rubs off on nonvoting parents, all the better.

All Doran needs now are a few financial sponsors and a bunch of volunteers in Rifle, Silt, New Castle, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt to help with the legwork.

If you believe in the democratic process, call Doran at 285-9525 to volunteer.

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