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State Journal: Pint-sized polls

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Children, apparently, may need to do a little more growing up before they join the national tide of Republican voters. A voter-education program showed last week that school-age children lagged behind the we-want-change mood of adults.

The Kids Voting U.S.A. program involved 2.5 million children in nearly half the states, according to organizers. The program arranged for separate voting booths for children who accompanied their parents to the polls Nov. 8.

When the votes were counted, youngsters chose State Treasurer Kathleen Brown over Gov. Pete Wilson in California, former U.S. Rep. Harold Wolpe over Gov. John Engler in Michigan, and other Democratic candidates in Minnesota and South Carolina who failed to win with the older electorate.

On the more perceptive side, students in Plainview, Tex., were on target in ousting Democratic Gov. Ann W. Richards, as were children in the Sunshine State, who re-elected Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles narrowly in Florida. In Arizona, the ballots of more than 127,000 children awarded G.O.P. Gov. Fife Symington a second term.

Children in Washington matched their elders in endorsing the comeback bid of former Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr.

The children participating in the Kids Voting program, which hopes to cover all 50 states by the 1996 elections, were not the only youngsters taking the elections seriously. The National Student/Parent Mock Election, conducted earlier this month through the sponsorship of Scholastic, covered all 50 states and 14 countries.

Students across the United States showed some distinct trends.

In the tabulations for the Kids Voting ballots, children approved measures to raise taxes on cigarettes and tobacco wherever they appeared.

They supported a South Carolina school-bond referendum, opposed more stringent gun control in North Carolina, and rejected an Alaska ballot question over whether to move the state capital from Juneau to Wasilla.

And the students responded strongly to one of the questions that seemed to hit close to home--61 percent turned down an Arkansas proposal to raise that state's tax on soft drinks. Not surprisingly, they were vetoed by adult voters, who approved the cola tax 56 percent to 44 percent.

--Lonnie Harp

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