Early Voting for Kids

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With the abundance of political ads on TV peppered between football games and the nightly news, children are getting an earful about politics right now. And while campaign ads have me feeling weary about this year’s election, Charlotte-Mecklenburg K-12 students are eager to learn, think and decide. Thanks to Kids Voting mock election, a program of Generation Nation, they can make their voices heard through Election 2014.

This is the 22nd year GenerationNation (formerly known as Kids Voting Mecklenburg) has offered the non-partisan educational program in Charlotte. More than 35,000 students participated in Election 2013 local election activities.

In this year’s mock election, students study the candidates and issues and cast their own ballots for US Senate, County Commission At-Large, and other races. They’ll also weigh in on the Mecklenburg County sales tax and City of Charlotte bonds referendums. Results of the student election are counted and announced after voting ends on Nov. 4. Students can learn about the candidates via a handly online candidate guide. The mock vote is being offered through schools and online now through Nov. 4, and at designated polling places on Oct. 31, Nov. 1, and Nov. 4.

For parents unclear on how to start a conversation about politics and the political process, start the conversation by emphasizing the importance of gathering facts and basing decisions on facts. This applies to all ages, including young children. Ask them to decide between two things – it can be as simple as choosing between chocolate milk or plain milk – and then ask them why they like vanilla or chocolate ice cream. This helps children learn to make decisions on facts they think through, things that matter to them, and not just what they see on TV.

It’s so very important to talk to children about civic duty. Whether we like the candidate choices or not, it’s a wonderful value of being a citizen in the United States. And this year’s vote on the 1/4-cent sales increase that will help fund public schools, arts in the community and programs at Central Piedmont Community College can make the conversation about voting more about activities kids are a part of rather than just people who stand behind a podium (with occasional fans beneath them depending on where you live).