Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Voting Age `Lowered' at Polls in Neptune 108 Kids Cast Ballots in Mock Primary

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Voting Age `Lowered' at Polls in Neptune 108 Kids Cast Ballots in Mock Primary

Article excerpt

NEPTUNE BEACH -- Agustus Witte Mithoff IV voted on Super Tuesday

for the first time.

The 4-year-old, who does not read yet, stared at the ballot. He

didn't know what to do. A polling assistant asked whom he wanted

to vote for.

"Am I on this list?" Agustus asked.

The youngster was one of 108 children who took part in the

city's inaugural Kids Vote organized by Vice Mayor Marianne

Langen. All children residing in the city were eligible to vote

in a mock primary. The children marked their ballots at the

city's two polling places, alongside regular voters taking part

in the state's presidential primary.

Langen developed the program after watching reporters interview

school children during the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire

primary.

"The children seemed interested and in tune with the issues. I

thought of what a difference it might make if they got to vote

when they were young," Langen said. "Considering the

disappointing turnouts at major elections, I thought maybe it

could be different if we get them involved earlier . . . and it

might also be an interesting barometer."

The youth voting project was put together in two weeks. Langen

and a small contingent of volunteers publicized the event at

city schools. Workers at the city yard constructed a special

voting booth for each precinct, complete with a curtain and

ballot box.

Volunteers manned the Kids Vote table during regular voting

hours to check the children's proof of residence and to assist

nonreaders. After each ballot was dropped in the red, white, and

blue box, the young voter received an "I Voted" sticker.

The 23 students from Neptune Beach who attend Beaches Chapel

School took the mock primary a step farther. The school held a

mock voter registration a few days before the election. Since

Langen wants to make Kids Vote an annual affair, she is

considering the possibility of having mock registrations before

future events. …

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