Kids Voting Project
Lawrence was among the first communities to take part in the Kids Voting Project when it began nationally in 1992. Since then, the project has been taken countywide.
Local organizers are still recruiting volunteers to work at the Kids Voting polling places on Election Day, Nov. 6.
Anyone wanting to volunteer may sign up online through the Roger Hill Volunteer Center website, VolunteerDouglasCounty.org. Click on “find a volunteer opportunity” and scroll down to the Kids Voting logo.
In America’s first election in 1789, George Washington was elected in a contest where only 6 percent of American adults — white, male property owners — were eligible to vote.
Vermont was the first state to extend voting rights to men who did not own property.
The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibited states from denying the right to vote to African-American men. But the U.S. Constitution did not guarantee women the right to vote until 50 years later, with ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Those are just some of the facts that students in Amanda Lovett’s fifth-grade social studies classes were learning last week through lesson plans and exercises provided through the Kids Voting Project.
“It is helping me,” Lovett said after giving one such lesson Friday. “There are a lot of nice, short, to-the-point lessons in the curriculum that really help me make sure I cover all of my bases and don’t leave anything out.”
One of those lessons dealt with the long struggle toward universal suffrage, starting with that first presidential election and leading up to passage of the 19th Amendment. Students were given note cards with information about each historic event that occurred along the way and worked in groups to sort the cards in sequential order to form a time line.
The activity is designed to give students a physical and visual sense of how long the struggle has gone on. It’s also meant to help them appreciate how valuable the right to vote is so that, it’s hoped, they will commit to exercising that right when they become eligible voters.
The project will culminate on Election Day when students in grades K-12 are encouraged to go with their parents or other adult to official polling places. There, they’ll have the chance to cast age-appropriate Kids Voting ballots that will be tabulated by local volunteers organizing the project
Lovett said the Kids Voting classroom curriculum is a powerful tool in teaching many of the things that are supposed to be taught in social studies classes.
“I actually find it to be a little bit better of a resource than even our state standards,” she said. “They do align (with the state standards). In fact, they’re more in-depth and a bit more quality as well.”