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Teens Under Voting Age Participate at the Polls

The legal age to be able to vote is 18. But for those who are just a year or two younger than the cut-off, there's still the chance to make a difference. KSMU's Benjamin Fry reports.

A teaching assistant leads the discussion in Ms. Frantzin's Liberty and Law class at Parkview High School in Springfield.The topic today is about the powers of the president.Though none of the 11th grade students here are old enough to vote, at least one of them will be at the polls on election day."There's always ways that everybody, no matter what their age is, can go out and actually work for political programs, for the political process," said Devin Kelsey.That's 16-year-old Devin Kelsey. Instead of being in class on November 4th, he'll be volunteering at a nearby polling place from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.He says volunteers too young to vote can still help out by making the process smoother for those who can."Because not only does it help them later on in life because it's a great experience, but it also helps with the process as a whole which make our country work," Kelsey said."Kelsey is one of over 100 high school students in Greene County who are taking part in the Youth Election Participant Program.The program was started up in 2000 after Missouri law changed to allow those between 15 and 17 years of age to work the polls.Greene County Clerk Richard Struckhoff says there are several different tasks young volunteers can do."Several of our students get assigned to just help people get into the right line. Some students will be assigned to keep an eye on the scanning device so that if it does reject a ballot, they'll be able to contact one of the judges immediately to come over and try to figure out what's wrong with the ballot," Struckhoff said.As for Kelsey, the task he's most looking forward to--and just a bit nervous about--comes when the polls officially close."So they've gotta send somebody to the back of the line which is probably gonna be me and I'm gonna have the privilege of telling people, sorry but you can't vote this year," he said.For KSMU news, I'm Benjamin Fry.