Kids Voting has strong turnout

By Kelby Johnson

All of those campaign signs on the side of the road will soon disappear.

Voter turnout for the Nov. 2 midterm election was high for both adult and student voters. Mesa County registered voters hit the polls at 75 percent. During the last midterm election, in 2006, 67 percent voted.

Kids Voting reported a turnout of 61 percent, compared with 2006’s turnout of 37 percent. In fact, this election saw the highest student turnout ever, with the exception of the presidential election in 2008.

The candidate races and controversial ballot issues drew people to the polls.

“Not only do we have spirited races, but the amendments on the ballot have really stirred the people to vote,” said Barbara Brewer, Mesa County assessor.

Democrat John Hickenlooper is the governor-elect. American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo, however, was more popular with Mesa County voters, with 42.8 percent over Hickenlooper’s 36.5 percent. Student voters sided with the state.

A very slim margin of .4 percent separated candidates Michael Bennet and Ken Buck in the race for U.S. Senate. Bennet received 47.4 percent of statewide votes while Buck received 47 percent. Kids Voting students agreed, but the county did not: Almost 60 percent of Mesa County votes went to Buck.

Steve King received 65 percent of the people’s votes for state senator. He defeated Claudette Konola by a wide margin; 28 percent of the votes counted for her. Students from the district and state agreed.

John Salazar, who has held the position of U.S. Congress representative (Third District) for the past eight years, lost his seat to Scott Tipton, who received 49 percent of the votes over Salazar’s 47 percent. Students thought differently; 41.5 percent of the votes went toward Salazar, with Tipton receiving only 36.7.

Student voters in secondary grades cast ballots on Amendments 61, 62 and Referred Measure 1A.

Amendment 61, which was about the government having the power to limit government spending, was shot down by the state, county and students.

Amendment 62, which attempted to define a “person” within the Constitution, was also voted down by the state and county voters. Students disagreed by passing it at 61 percent.

Referred Measure 1A, which was a question to prohibit marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated parts of Mesa County, was approved by Mesa County voters. High school voters, however, did not pass the measure.

Voters of all ages participated in the 2010 midterm election. Adult voters were given the opportunity to exercise their opinions, while students were given the chance to practice giving theirs. Kids Voting continues to teach students how to become voting citizens.

“Over the last four years, the percentage of Kids Voting has grown from 37 percent to 61 percent this year,” said Martha Graf, director of Kids Voting. “It’s great to see the improvement in student turnout in a midterm election. We went from 36 percent in ‘06 to 61 percent this year. Not only that, but I am convinced that many, many students cast ballots as informed voters. I am so proud of the students and teachers who helped make this possible.”

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Kelby Johnson is an eighth-grader at Redlands Middle School and is reporting on election issues for The Daily Sentinel in conjunction with Kids Voting of Mesa County.


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