Butler County provides way for children to connect with elections

Coloring page designed to engage future voters.

Younger voters are seemingly making up a large voting segment in elections.

In the 2020 elections, 10% more voters from 18 to 29 turned out than in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Center of Information and Research for Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. And Ohio has one of the higher youth voter participation rates in the country.

But what about the generation of future voters?

Many boards of elections and secretaries of state across the country are coming up with ways to actively engage these kids too young to vote, which includes Butler County. The Butler County Board of Elections is asking kids to decorate a downloadable coloring page that will be displayed in the early voting center on Princeton Road in Hamilton.

Though they may be too young to participate in the voting process, they are not too young to be involved, said Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin.

ExploreAugust election: Butler County voters to decide Statehouse nominees

“What we’re trying to do before November, and really before October when early voting for the general election starts, is getting a bunch of people to do this so we can fill our hallway with pictures that kids have colored, and that way when they come to early vote they can see the picture,” he said.

Many of the board’s efforts to encourage future voters surround older youth in high school, but this project is designed to excite and engage those whose voting life may be several years off.

“It’s never too early to teach someone about voting,” according to the Center for Tech and Civic Life. “Engaging young people helps prepare the next generation to be civically engaged citizens. And when young people learn about election processes, they are more likely to trust the election system and have faith in their local election officials.”

Corbin said one of the board’s location supervisors shared an idea bout kids voting and had been a part of in another state, “and that’s what got us thinking about it.”

He said they’re trying to get the public to download, color and send the “VOTE” coloring page, “but it will probably be more successful in November.” Corbin and Early Voting Administrator Nicole Unzicker decided on the coloring page as a way to get kids involved, and more ways are likely to be added.

ExploreDOWNLOAD: Here's where to find the Butler County Board of Elections coloring page

The Center for Tech and Civic Life lists several ways to engage the youth. Some of them include:

Special kids pages: Davis County, Utah, has a page for kids that features downloadable activities, like a campaign poster, an election-oriented word search, and an election-related maze. Bernalillo County, New Mexico has a Civics Education section on its website, which in addition to a downloadable activity book for kids and resources for students, also has resources for parents and educators.

Contests: Some areas across the country have held “I Voted” sticker contests. The city of Fairfax, Va., held a “Future Voter” sticker contest for K-12 students, and the winning sticker design is given to children who come with their parents to the polls on Election Day. Some areas in the country have also hosted essay contests.

Youth outreach leaders: The Rhode Island Secretary of State developed the Rhode Island Civic Fellowship program to allow the youth to engage peers. They develop non-partisan plans to engage millennials. The Georgia Secretary of State did something similar by hosting a “Secure the Vote” challenge via the social media platform TikTok.

Corbin said the future voters, if they are accompanied by their voting parent, can see their artwork on display. Artwork can be dropped off at the Butler County Board of Elections, or deposited in the election drop box in the front of the office at 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton.

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