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THE KIDS GET A VOICE

People under 18 don't have the right to vote -- but they can still make their voices heard through Kids Voting Western New York on Election Day.

More than 300 schools in Erie and Niagara counties will participate in Kids Voting on Tuesday -- with 170,000 kids eligible to vote for president and Congressional candidates, reports Kids Voting coordinator Rosemary Cicero-Sullivan. Springville-Griffith Institute is taking part for the first time this year, she noted.

As part of Kids Voting this year, seven girls from Newfane High School taught Kids Voting lessons to elementary pupils. It was so popular, they were asked to also do a program in the middle school, Sullivan said. Kim Guido, who worked with the students, said: "We try very hard to keep it nonpartisan. We're discussing the democratic process, not the actual election itself."

Newfane senior Emily Gooding and Sarah Hagan worked with second-graders. One project was making a paper eagle out of a bag. Another was a "wish tree" with stars where kids wrote down "what they wished the president would do for our country," she said. "A lot of them were aware of the hurricanes and stuff that happened in Florida and they would mention to help the people who lost their homes in Florida." Jessica Eberhart and Mary Jennings worked with third-graders. For their wish tree, "they wished they could stop the war and bring relatives home," Jessica said. "A lot of them said 'no school on Fridays' or wished everyone would have jobs so there's no poor people. They were really cute. They understood what point we were trying to get across."

Questions on the Kids Voting ballot are as follows:

Kindergarten through fifth:

Should all students have art, music and physical education in the elementary grades?

Sixth grade to high school:

Should the draft be reinstated?

Should we have entered the war in Iraq?

Should there be a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage?

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