A program in which children voted alongside their parents in 11 states last November apparently increased adults' turnout in those areas by 2.5 percent, a researcher says.
And the program may have increased voter turnout by 2.7 percent in Lawrence and five other Kansas communities that participated.
Mary Gifford, administrator of Kids Voting USA, said this morning that, in participating Kansas communities, the increased turnout attributable to Kids Voting was estimated to be about 2.7 percent. She said that figure was based on a linear regression model that showed what voter turnout had been in those areas since World War II.
In addition to Lawrence, other Kansas communities that participated in Kids Voting were Ulysses, Newton, Maize, Junction City and Winfield.
The program was started to raise awareness of the electoral process and to combat public apathy.
NATIONWIDE, an additional 88,000 adults voted in those areas that participated in Kids Voting, according to research prepared for Kids Voting by Bruce Merrill of Arizona State University.
``That average is misleading, because in Arizona, with all the high-profile issues, the change was nothing,'' Merrill said Monday. ``But in other areas, like in South Dakota, there was an increase of about 7 percent.''
The program began in 1988 with a few precincts in the eastern suburbs of Phoenix, grew to a statewide program in 1990 and expanded into areas of Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee last fall.
Merrill's research compared similar areas which did and did not have the Tempe-based program that allows children to cast mock ballots at the same time as their parents cast real votes.
HE ALSO compared predicted and actual turnout figures, factored in the fact that it was a presidential election year and asked voters in five states to what degree the program had affected their decision to vote.
``We're just thrilled,'' said Kids Voting President Marilyn Evans of the figures showing increased turnout. ``It's the whole reason we've being working so hard.''
In the kids count, former President Bush would have been re-elected by 38 percent to 35 percent over then-Gov. Bill Clinton. In several areas, the children voted opposite of the actual outcome in voting on proposition issues.
About 1.3 million students were taught the Kids Voting curriculum, and approximately 478,000 cast ballots on Election Day.
The program has dealt mainly with statewide or national issues and candidates, but next month will hold its election at the local level, in Anchorage, Alaska.
Evans said 10 more states will be added in 1994 and it could be in all 50 states by the end of the century.