Kindergarten classes stand at their voting stations and cast their ballot.

Salt River Elementary Young Voters 2012

By Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

Because 2012 is an election year, there is no better time to start teaching the young children of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community all about voting. Teachers at Salt River Elementary School have been working with their classes to learn about the civic duty of voting.

Since the first week of school, kindergarten instructor Dawn Burstyn-Meyers has been holding class elections where students vote on topics such as their favorite color or pet. “This is to have them learn the importance of voting at a young age, and to teach them that they too have a voice,” said Meyers.

A series of school-wide mock elections are being held in which the kids vote for favorite pet, favorite color, or other fun topics. This year all grades will be participating in the voting event, even the FACE program and preschool.

August 28 was the first mock election. That morning an announcement was made, and one at a time classes came into the school library to cast their votes for favorite pet, choosing between cat or dog.

Meyers has been getting children in her classrooms involved with voting since 1980. This year is not only the presidential election, but the tribal election as well. The program is teaching them to become good citizens and teaching them the importance of casting their votes. The kindergarten children are also recognizing the word “vote,” and currently there is a student council election taking place and the children see the word “vote” throughout the school.

“We are inviting members of the Community to participate as ‘poll workers’ at the elementary school for each of the mock elections, and it would be a very special opportunity for the youngsters if you could participate during these voting events,” said Meyers. “It is our hope that the Community’s youth will become well-informed voters.”

Four years ago, during the last presidential and tribal election, SRES held similar voting exercises and mock elections for the students.

Meyers encourages parents to take their children with them to the polls when they go to vote in November so they can see the process firsthand and also see their parents involved.

Cat 127 votes
Dog 183 votes

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