Paonia held another kids vote for the election in November. The kids vote is the idea of Barbara Peterson, Paonia town clerk.
While studying for her master's, she was impressed by a University of Colorado Denver professor, Michael Cummings, who asked why we think when someone becomes 18 they are qualified to vote. Why not interested 16-year-olds or even younger? Cummings is a big advocate for kids voting.
Peterson was intrigued by that concept. Peterson asked some questions of her own. "Why do we think they will automatically know how to vote? How to fill out a ballot? How to register? How to do all those things that as an adult you just take for granted?"
So in 2008 Peterson started the kids vote in Paonia. She first did it at the Vision School and at Paonia High School.
"I would love to see if we can make our kids educated on where to find information, how to fill out a ballot, how to fill out a registration, how to look at both sides of an issue. If we can accomplish that we will have more informed voters," Peterson said.
Sometimes Peterson and Mayor Neal Schwieterman have done State of the Town presentations to classes. They have shown students what the local government does. The town clerk and mayor help in whatever way the teachers want them to whether it's for a history, social science or English class.
This year there were 250 kids ballots sent out and 145 kids between the ages of 12 to 18 voted. Peterson noted that age 12 had 16 votes cast, age 13 had 27 votes, age 14 had 10 votes, age 15 had 17 votes, age 16 had 16 votes, age 17 had 17 votes and age 18 had 12 votes.
Helping this year were high school students under the direction of Kirsten Saunders. They counted and tallied the results.
Michael Cummings has written a book, "Children's Voices in Politics," that will be published in 2015. Included in his book will be some of the Paonia kids votes done since 2008.
The kids voted for Ron Germann, Tammy Smith and Jan Tuin for the the school district. They voted 80 to 75 against the education tax, 75 to 43 for taxing recreational marijuana sales, 72 to 50 in favor of the sidewalk fund, 67 to 52 to deBruce and 73 to 48 against the library district tax increase. The young voters were in favor of doing away with term limits for elected county officials.They matched the voting results of the actual adult registered voters.blog comments powered by Disqus