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VOLUNTEERS TO ASSIST KIDS VOTING NEW YORK

Diane D'Arcy shrugs off the countless hours she has spent lining up workers for the area's largest volunteer effort since the World University Games of 1993.

"I'm just doing the asking, they're the ones saying yes," the Lancaster housewife and school activist said of the approximately 175 volunteers she has recruited to staff 32 polling places on Election Day for Kids Voting New York. She is still looking for 40 more workers.

As president of Grassroots Inc. in the city's Masten District, Maurice Garner knew where to turn to find workers for 26 polling places. He is excited about the program and thinks it will result in a larger turnout as parents find themselves caught up in their children's enthusiasm to get out and vote.

"I think this will become an integral part of the community's efforts to help itself by educating young people about how to get involved," Garner said.

Garner and Mrs. D'Arcy are among more than 20 volunteer coordinators charged with rounding up some 7,000 volunteers to staff 500 polling places in Erie County and the Niagara County Town of Barker. About 300 additional volunteers are needed.

The volunteers are being asked to work a three-hour shift and help children complete their paper ballots when they accompany their parents to the polls.

About 40 of the 70 Buffalo schools and 14 suburban districts are participating, involving some 100,000 children from kindergarten through 12th grade, said Anne Leary, executive director of the program.

Mrs. D'Arcy said she is encouraged to see businesses coming forward to "adopt" polling places.

"And I think it says a lot for the community when parents, children and businesses can all work together," she said.

Kids Voting New York is part of a national effort designed to rekindle a passion and appreciation for the democratic process, as 5,000 teachers instruct children on the rights and responsibilities of a democracy.

The idea is to establish lifelong voting habits and increase the adult voter turnout. And it's working.

"We've had tons of calls from parents seeking information about how to register and vote," Mrs. Leary said.

"It's really been a partnership between the community and the schools. The Erie County Board of Elections has been tremendous and people from both parties have put aside their differences for the sake of the program," she added.