Future voters get lesson in civics

- As Make Gomez, left, fills out her voter registration card, Mauryn Lard, center, spells a word for Jahaziel Serrano as he fills out his own following a Kids Voting ceremony at the Dual Immersion Academy on Monday. The children are all 10 years old and in the fifth grade.

Voting is not a justified act itself, said Tom Acker, Spanish professor at Mesa State College.

Voters must have a vision of the future they wish to realize when they cast their ballot, Acker said, and band together with others who share that dream.

Kids Voting held a civic education night Monday in partnership with the Dual Immersion Academy to educate school-aged children on the importance of voting in the political process and help adults register to vote. Teachers from the school were available to help translate the presentation into Spanish.

“We’ve never done this before,” said Martha Graf, executive director of Kids Voting Mesa County. “So we’re using it as an opportunity to say something about the importance of being involved and put a face to government.”

Mesa County Clerk Janice Rich was on hand to help register those in attendance who would be 18 years old or older by November. Several elected officials were available to discuss the importance of voting as civic engagement, including Mesa County commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland and their challengers Dan Robinson and Dickie Lewis.

The Grand Valley Combined Color Guard gave a special flag presentation that included a description of the significance of each of the 13 folds in the American flag, and Acker also discussed the importance of civic engagement.

Kids Voting is a nonprofit organization with offices across the country. The local chapter set up a mock election to walk children through registering to vote and ballot casting at the event.

Graf said the organization has experienced a significant increase in interest in the group this election than previous ones.

“If the number of teachers (who) call us is any indication, than there is much more of an interest this year,” Graf said. “There’s a lot of stuff on people’s minds.”

The charged nature of this year’s election along with the attention the presidential race has received has helped to fuel that interest as well, Graf said.

“People are talking,” she said. “We’re going to get them one step closer to the voting booth.”


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