Kids Voting Gets International Exposure

November 5, 2008

Northfield Rotarian Yogi Reppmann has given Kids Voting USA and the Northfield Rotary Club some international exposure with an article that will appear tomorrow is 14 daily newspapers across Germany. Dr. Reppmann, a journalist and historian, writes . . .

Words from America

“Control the kids!” An unusual admonition to hear in conjunction with the voting process, but nevertheless, one uttered recently by Northfield, Minnesota Rotarian, Jim Blaha. Blaha was instructing a group of volunteers from “Kids Voting, USA,” a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

“Kids Voting USA” gives voice to America’s founding fathers who realized that a democracy can only be secured and maintained with the participation of its citizens. “Kids Voting USA” attempts to instill the importance of this participation in the hearts and minds of all students, regardless of age. As a result, students are encouraged to accompany their parents to the polls and vote alongside them for politicians running for local, state, and national offices.

The roots of “Kids Voting USA” can be traced to a 1988 fishing trip made by three Arizona businessmen to Costa Rica, a country that boasts the highest voter turnout rate of any western democracy. In Minnesota, the grass roots movement now includes 3200 volunteers in 642 polling places. In the last election, one thousand Northfield kids — half of all students — accompanied their parents to the polls.

Sometimes, it isn’t the elders teaching the students, but rather, the other way around. Last election, a twelve-year-old convinced her ninety-year-old great grandmother to vote for the first time. Both were rewarded with an “I voted” sticker, a pencil, and a temporary tattoo from a “Kids Voting” volunteer.

[The German version is different and will be published tomorrow (November 6) in 14 daily German newspapers . “Wahlabend Final Bildunterschriften”]