If elections were decided by the under-18 crowd, the Kentucky governor’s race might not have turned into such a toss-up.
A special program called Kids Voting encouraged children who came to the polls with their parents Tuesday to cast mock-ballots of their own at certain locations. Around 4,355 kids from ages 5-17 ultimately participated, weighing in on three major state elections and three kid-specific issues: Juuling, military service and school safety.
Democrat Andy Beshear, who squeaked out a win by less than 1% in the real gubernatorial election, carried the kids’ election easily. He earned 65% of the vote; his opponent, Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, earned 35%.
Kids Voting also elected Republican Daniel Cameron to Beshear’s old job as Kentucky Attorney General — which happened in real life, too — but broke from their adult counterparts’ consensus on Secretary of State. Republican Michael Adams carried the real vote, but Democrat and former Miss America Heather French Henry defeated him at the miniature ballot box.
The remaining ballot issues were yes-or-no questions: Has any adult spoken to you about the impact of Juuling? (No, according to the majority.) Do you think military service should be required after high school? (An even stronger no.) Do you feel safe in school? (A near-unanimous yes.)
For parents like Lauren Foster the event was an opportunity to teach children about the values of voting in a real-world setting.
Her daughter, Katie, may only be seven years old, but she cast her very first ballot Tuesday alongside her mother.
"I felt proud to be able to vote," said Katie.
She had practice — her mother recently taught her about the importance of voting by encouraging their family to vote on the name of their new cat, who was ultimately christened Tweedle Spots.
"I'm hoping that she'll realize that there will be an outcome for who becomes the governor, or our president, or our mayor, or our cat's name," Lauren said Tuesday. "That there will be a result for your actions."