The Garden City Telegram
11/10/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Youth votes

Civic responsibility flourishes in schools.

Newly re-elected President Barack Obama didn't need the support of Kansas voters on Election Day.

As expected and as usual, the Sunflower State was solid in its support for the Republican candidate, giving Mitt Romney 60 percent of the vote.

It's not as if the Democratic incumbent had a chance in a state that has sided with the GOP candidate in every election since 1964.

Still, Kansas youngsters saw the recent presidential election another way.

Students across the state had an opportunity to engage in Election Day as part of Kids Voting Kansas.

They did their homework by studying different aspects of the election process, and on Tuesday cast 26,880 votes for the president, with another 19,269 for Romney. Nationwide, one million K-12 students participated in Kids Voting USA, and Obama won among youth at that level, as well.

The nonpartisan Kids Voting program has contributed to civic education for many years. Students learn about democracy through a series of classroom activities intended to help them appreciate the right to vote and active citizenship.

And even though the youngsters' votes don't count toward official results, their involvement is all the more important at a time so many American adults shirk their civic duty to be involved in their government.

Even in a time of war and with the nation in an economic funk, well more than a third of eligible voters failed to cast a vote for president Tuesday — turnout that was lower than in 2008 and 2004.

While unwelcome policies didn't help in discouraging some would-be voters — Kansas' Voter ID law would be but one Republican strategy to ward off poor, elderly and other voters who tend to vote Democratic — apathy also is to blame in a nation that should set an example, yet continues to see its voter participation lag behind other democracies.

The next generation of American voters must do better — to include setting aside policies that suppress the vote, and supporting ways to get more people to the polls.

Count a good program in place today that encourages more schoolchildren to embrace the privilege of voting as one such step.