LAWRENCE, Kan. – Their votes may not count yet, but someday soon the members of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence will indeed make their presence known at the polls. The Voting for Great Futures – Kids Vote 2016 initiative will ensure that every kid in the USD 497 elementary schools will get the opportunity to vote on November 8.
A polling site will be set up at every elementary school for students to cast their vote in the Presidential, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives – 2nd District elections. The elementary school polls will open at 2 p.m., to ensure that kids who do not attend the Boys & Girls Club will also get the chance to vote. All polling locations will close at 4:30 p.m., with the exception of Quail Run Elementary (polls open from 4-6 p.m.).
Secondary students in the middle and high schools will have the opportunity to vote online in the three elections. Paper ballots will be available at the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center for any student who did not get to vote during the school day.
“One of our three priority outcomes is good character and citizenship,” said BGCLK Director of Marketing Alissa Bauer. “It is our duty – and pleasure – to educate our Club kids on the importance of exercising their right to vote. We hope that these experiences translate into kids becoming responsible, informed voters as they grow up. We talk about starting great futures every day, and this is really the way that all Americans can affect what their future is going to look like.”
For weeks leading up to Election Day, AmeriCorps members who serve at the Boys & Girls Club, have instructed various voting lessons. Grade-level activities are organized by four themes: elections and voting, democracy and the people, informed citizen and civic engagement/service learning. Each theme contains a general introduction, overarching questions, a literature connection activity and culminating activity. AmeriCorps members provide academic assistance, specifically focused on improving math and reading proficiency, which fits well with the literature components of each lesson.
The primary focus is learning the concepts. Persuading children to vote for a certain candidate or political party is strictly prohibited.
Lawrence was one of six pilot sites across the state for Kids Voting when it was introduced in 1992. The Lawrence Journal-World was the initial business partner of the program. From 1992-2012, the program was run by a dedicated committee with support from businesses and community members who worked to provide students with an authentic voting experience. Originally, they opened Kids Voting polling sites at the same locations as the county’s official locations. For student voting, the sites were only open before and after school as it was hoped that families would share the voting experience together.
When it was learned that Kids Voting Kansas could no longer have the funding to provide the curriculum and materials, the committee approached the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence to assist in continuing the important program. Thus, Voting for Great Futures – Kids Vote 2016 was born.
An event of this size wouldn’t survive without the help of generous volunteers. Community members will staff each polling station on Election Day, ensuring that kids sign in and use the voting booth just as they will when they vote as adults.
When the polling sites close and ballots are returned to headquarters, a team of student volunteers, led by Lawrence High social studies teacher Fran Bartlett, will compile the results for the entire city.
For those interested in volunteering, register at volunteerdouglascounty.org. Two options of training sessions are available on Nov. 3 at 4:30 or 5:30 p.m.
The results of the Voting for Great Futures – Kansas Kids Vote 2016 are as follows. Student voting from all 14 USD 497 elementary school polling sites, four middle schools and two high schools are included.
Voting for Great Futures – Kansas Kids Vote 2016 Results
President and Vice-President
Hillary Clinton/Timothy Kaine: 2,535 votes
Donald Trump/Michael Pence: 632 votes
Gary Johnson/Bill Weld: 291 votes
Jill Stein/Ajamu Baraka: 298 votes
United States Senate
Robert Garrard: 549 votes
Patrick Wiesner: 1,606 votes
Jerry Moran: 941 votes
United States House of Representatives – Second District
Brittani Potter: 1,375 votes
Lynn Jenkins: 1,464 votes
James Bales: 583 votes