Kids back Rybak, learn about election process

More than 2,800 students citywide turned out to vote mock ballots on Nov. 8, as part of the Kids Voting project. Although they didn't influence the election, they learned about the political process.

Trailing along with parents and other adults to the polls, students from 111 Minneapolis schools voted for city officials and responded to issues relevant to them.

That's the goal of Kids Voting, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2004 as a part of Kids Voting U.S.A. Seeking to increase voter turnout in the long run, it offers students the opportunity to participate in civic activities.

Minneapolis students got a well-rounded taste of what happens during elections. Besides selecting candidates, some also served as election judges at various sites. For example, students at Southwest High School, 3414 W. 47th St. helped classmates fill out ballots at polls in the 13th ward. Others from Ascension Academy at 1704 Dupont Ave. N. and Patrick Henry High School, 4320 Newton Ave. N. made the process run smoothly in the 4th and 5th wards.

Kids voted for City Council, Park and Recreation Commissioners and Library Board members. They backed Mayor R.T. Rybak over Peter McLaughlin 64 to 34 percent. Some students supported write-in candidates such as Farheen Hakeem. In Southwest wards, students supported Dean Zimmermann (Ward 6), Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8), Ralph Remington (Ward 10) and Betsy Hodges (Ward 13).

On an issues questionnaire portion of the ballot, most kids said that the voting age should be lowered to 16 years old, uniforms shouldn't be required at school and agreed that in-school police liaisons are courteous.

Kids Voting spokesperson Mary Huntsiger said, &#8220Students are learning that city officials have significant decision-making authority over issues that affect them. We want students to learn about their city officials and the duties and authority they hold now so that, as students become eligible to vote at 18, they will participate as informed voters.”

For more information, check out www.kidsvotingminneapolis.org.