Youth voting record nearly matches that of region

By Josette Keelor

In the Kids Voting elections that took place Wednesday in Winchester and the counties of Frederick, Warren and Clarke, children around the area voted predominantly Republican, according to area supervisors.

Although volunteer officials said they expected the decrease they saw in voters since last year, it was still a good year for all three precincts.

The Winchester-Frederick election saw a decrease by two-thirds from last year’s election, according to a press release from the area precinct of Kids Voting USA, and Warren County’s young voters decreased by half.

Mike Waters, who has chaired Kids Voting in Warren since 2007, said the turnout was still excellent considering this year’s election didn’t include a presidential race.

“Adults are like that,” he said. “They don’t show up for the elections other than the president either.”

Last year Warren had 1,730 student voters and this year saw that number fall to 887, but Waters said that’s better than it’s been in past years. In 2011 there were only 497, the lowest since before he was asked to be chairman.

“This is the best year that we’ve had,” he said, “… except for the presidential election.”

Winchester-Frederick County processed 3,004 student ballots, down from last year’s record 6,338. In Clarke County, 441 students participated this year, and a press release from the school board office praised Boyce Elementary School for winning the highest student voter rate for the ninth consecutive year, with 39.7 percent participation. Clarke County High had an 11.3 percent participation rate and Johnson-Williams Middle 20.9 percent.

In general, area students voted like adults around the Northern Shenandoah Valley did.

Leaning Republican, students in all three elections chose Ken Cuccinelli over Terry McAuliffe for governor, despite McAuliffe’s eventual statewide win on Wednesday.

The student votes also matched the Northern Shenandoah Valley’s general election results listed at electionresults.virginia.gov, with area participants choosing Republican candidates lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Warren County’s only surprise came in the student vote for commissioner of revenue, when students elected Republican Mike D. McCool with a resounding 40 percent of the vote over independent Roy K. Broyles with 29 percent and independent Sherry T. Sours with 31 percent. But Sours won the general election with 40 percent of the vote.

“The kids voted in someone different than the results,” Waters said. “That’s only the third time that that’s happened.”

Area-wide, student voters matched adults by electing J. Randy Minchew to the 10th District House of Delegates, Del. Michael Webert to the 18th District, Mark Berg to the 29th and Dave A. LaRock to the 33rd.

Berryville was the only precinct in Clarke County to vote consistently Democratic in each electoral race during Kids Voting. Students in Berryville mirrored adults by electing Roberta Lasiter to the school board with 50 percent of the vote over George H. Archibald with 41.67 percent.

In the Winchester-Frederick County press release, precinct chairman Tara Woolever attributed the success of the local Kids Voting program to support received from the public schools, local voter registrars, local businesses and civic organizations who provide financial support, and hundreds of volunteers who give their time on election day and to staff the Kids Voting polls.

Waters thanked adult and high school volunteers as well as the Front Royal Kiwanis, Linden Rotary, the school board and school administrators and the Chamber of Commerce.

His hope, he said, is that the Kids Vote program will have a lasting effect on participants who will take a greater interest in voting as adults, so “they will build on that process that they went through as a kid in Kids Voting.”

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com