Local students cast their votes

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They may not be old enough to officially participate in the 2012 election, but local students are making sure they get their votes in.

Kids Vote Mesa County, a local non-profit organization, has established mock voting at all District 51 schools. All students, from elementary to high school levels, have the opportunity to vote on school computers for their presidential candidate of choice, as well as some federal and state candidates.

Martha Graf, director of Kids Vote Mesa County, said the purpose is to educate kids at a young age about the importance of voting, civic responsibility, and being informed.

"They need to know what they're voting about," Graf said. "We want them to become educated and make decisions that affect themselves, their future, and our future from a knowledge base."

Grand Junction High School senior David Bjorklund said the mock elections prepare him and his peers for the next election, when they are eligible to vote.

"It gives kids a feel for what it is to vote, what it's like, and how it looks so that when they actually are able to vote it won't be so foreign to them or strange," Bjorklund said.

Although the majority of the students participating in the mock elections cannot yet vote, Grand Junction High School principal Jon Bilbo said it's still important for them to be informed about this election.

"They need to understand why we are going to be where we are in three, four, or six years to be able to come back and make conscious decisions when they can vote," Bilbo said.

Graf said Kids Voting Mesa County is a non-partisan group that doesn't influence how kids vote, but rather just encourages them to vote, and vote informed.

"We just want them to understand that our country's future really depends on their involvement," Graf said.

Graf and her staff will be announcing the winning candidates for each school on election night, Nov. 6th.

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