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Chat about Douglas County Kids Vote with Ruthi Rapp

October 25, 2006

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

The Kids Voting Coalition seeks the assistance of community volunteers to offer students kindergarten though 12 an authentic voting experience at the polls this Election Day, Nov. 7. Individual volunteers, as well as civic or business groups, are needed to help at Kids Voting tables before and after school at polling sites throughout Douglas County, including rural voting locations. Ruthi Rapp, a committee member, takes your questions about the effort.

Moderator:

Hi, I'm Deanna Richards. I'll be moderating today's chat. We're going to get things started with Kids Voting committee member, Ruthi Rapp, in just a few minutes.

Moderator:

OK. Let's get started! Ruthi, thanks for joining us.

Ruthi Rapp:

You're most welcome. Thanks for inviting me.

Moderator:

Where did Kids Voting come from? How long has it been around in Douglas County?

Ruthi Rapp:

Kids Voting was initiated by a group of Arizona fishermen who visitied Costa Rica and found that they had a 90% voter turnout rate for their elections. When investigating why, they found that children there accompany their parents to the polls on election day and vote alongside them. They returned to the US where they began Kids Voting USA in 1988. The program came to Lawrence first in 1992 and then spread to other cities in the county in subsequent years.

Moderator:

So, where do kids go to vote? Are the polling sites near the polling sites for adults?

Ruthi Rapp:

Yes, the Kids Voting polling sites for students are located near the adult polling areas at official sites throughout the county. Younger students can be accompanied by a parent or another adult when they go to vote themselves. Student polling sites are open before and after school hours.

Moderator:

What kind of turnout do you get from kids?

Ruthi Rapp:

Typically we get several thousand students who go vote at one of the 60+ polling sites in the county. Students in grades K-12 can vote on grade level appropriate ballots. By the time students are of high school age, they are voting on the same items as found on an adult ballot.

Moderator:

Are there Kids Voting committees like Douglas County's all over the country?

Ruthi Rapp:

Yes, there are Kids Voting committees throughout the state of Kansas as well as across the nation. The program is popular because it imitates what students need to do as adult voters when they turn 18 and are registered to vote. It prepares students to do what they will do as adults. It is said that adult voter turnout of the 18-25 year old age group increases in communities where students have participated in Kids Voting.

Moderator:

What happens to the results? Do candidates have a chance to see how their Kids Voting numbers stack up?

Ruthi Rapp:

On Election Night volunteers from each of the polling sites bring the results of that day's votes to Lawrence High School where the the totals for the county are tabulated. These results are reported to the state headquarters in Topeka that evening as well as printed in the Journal-World and other local papers.

Moderator:

I'm guessing it takes more than the Kids Voting committee to get this thing up and running. What kind of help do you receive from the community?

Ruthi Rapp:

We receive tremendous support from the Roger Hill Volunter Center which works with us to come up with the over 400 volunteers needed from throughout the county to work the Kids Voting polling sites on Election Day. In addition, we receive financial support from businesses and organizations which helps pay for ballots, supplies, and other materials needed to make the program successful.

Moderator:

Well, what can people do if they're interested in helping?

monkeywrench:

is it too late to volunteer?

Ruthi Rapp:

Those who can give part of their day to help us with this project can contact the Roger Hill Volunteer Center at 865-5030 or info@rhvc.org to offer to work one of the shifts at the polling sites. We still have a number of polling sites which need to be "adopted" or which need additional volunteers. The shifts are 6:45-9:00 A.M., 2:45-5:15 P.M., or 5:15-5:30 P.M. on Tuesday, November 7. Whatever time members of the community could donate that day to help our young people have an authentic voting experience would be much appreciated.

Moderator:

Alright. That's about all we have time for today. Thanks so much for joining us, Ruthi.

Ruthi Rapp:

It was my pleasure. Thank you.

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