By JUDY SHERARD
The signs are popping up in town. No, not those signs. The Kids Voting signs.
The nonprofit, non-partisan program gives youngsters a chance to be a part of the election process.
Robba Moran, former Hays resident and wife of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., started the program in Hays in 2004, said Laura Hertel, Kids Voting chairwoman.
"After that election, she asked me to continue it. Every two years, we do it so that the kids can get that continuous mindset of voting every two years," Hertel said.
Any student from kindergarten to grade 12 or age 18 can participate.
The seven Kids Voting polling sites in Hays will be open for kids to vote on election day Nov. 4, from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Hertel said several local businesses allow their employees time away from the job to work at the kids' polling places.
Schools help get information out about the program through flyers, posters, yard signs and announcements.
The Hays USD 489 Board of Education approved the Kids Voting curriculum, so teachers can use it in their classrooms if they choose, Hertel said.
The kids' ballot is similar to the adult one.
"We actually make it look a little bit more kid friendly. We do the basic races, and then we also try to attach pictures as much as we can so they can put a name with a face," Hertel said.
Hays High School government students tally votes, and the results are published in The Hays Daily News and on the Kids Vote website.
The vote counters keep a tally where the voters attend school, and some school principals announce the numbers.
"It is so fun just to watch the kids come and vote," Hertel said.
Kids Voting is sponsored locally by McDonald's and The Hays Daily News.