The Kids Voting program that will allow minors to vote in this year's election also has had the benefit of getting more adults to register, registration totals indicate.
In Kids Voting, students grades kindergarten through 12 will go to the polls Nov. 3. Although their votes won't count in the final totals, the votes will be tabulated and analyzed.
Younger voters must be accompanied by a parent or some other adult, and Kids Voting organizers say that has motivated many parents to register who wouldn't have otherwise.
Douglas County District Clerk Patty Jaimes said that voter registration throughout the county increased by 34.2 percent since the August primary. But in those precincts involved with the Kids Voting program, voter registration has increased by 35.9 percent.
Melissa Masoner, project coordinator with Kids Voting Kansas, said she's seeing the same pattern in the five other Kansas communities involved in Kids Voting.
"THERE'S NO question that the registration is up due to the Kids Voting program," she said.
She noted that in Geary County, which includes the Kids Voting community of Junction City, voter registration has increased by 19.8 percent since the primary. In Grant County, which includes the Kids Voting community of Ulysses, adult registration increased by 15.1 percent.
"My guess is that the increase is going to be no more than 10 percent statewide," Masoner said.
While increasing adult voter registration may be a positive side effect of Kids Voting, the main goal of the program is to instill the habit of voting in young people.
Lawrence schoolteachers are using a special Kids Voting curriculum in the classroom. Although the students are ready to make an informed choice, Lawrence is still in need of poll volunteers to allow the students to cast their vote.
Lanaea Heine, who is in charge of getting poll volunteers, said 12 of 41 polling places have yet to be "adopted." Adopting a polling site requires about six volunteers, with each one working a two-hour shift between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. or between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Training sessions for poll volunteers will be held at 4 p.m. and at 6 p.m. Thursday in the county commission room of the Douglas County Courthouse, 11th and Massachusetts.
ANY GROUPS or individuals interested in adopting a polling site can call the Roger Hill Volunteer Center at 865-5030.
Participating in Kids Voting are 10 Lawrence elementary schools: Broken Arrow, Centennial, Cordley, Deerfield, Grant, Hillcrest, New York, Quail Run, Schwegler and Woodlawn. Also participating are all three Lawrence junior high schools, Lawrence High School and the Lawrence Alternative High School.
Lawrence High School students are organizing an Election Watch, where students, parents and other members of the community will be invited to watch the Kids Voting election results. The event will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Election Day at the LHS cafeteria, 1901 La., where Kids Voting votes will be posted as precinct reports come in.