These Fifth-Graders Think It's Really, Really Important That You Vote : NPR Ed They're too young to vote, but they're still getting out the vote. After learning about the history of voting and democracy in America, these young activists took their message to a college campus.
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These Fifth-Graders Think It's Really, Really Important That You Vote

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These Fifth-Graders Think It's Really, Really Important That You Vote

These Fifth-Graders Think It's Really, Really Important That You Vote

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/500997105/501053273" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We've heard a lot about election fatigue among voters - anxiety, too. Jenny Brundin of Colorado Public Radio sought out people who are excited about the election, and she found them. Now, there is a catch. They can't vote. They are too young. So here's what they're doing instead.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNY BRUNDIN, BYLINE: Backpacks, pigtails, freckles - this little brigade of fifth graders sticks out on the campus at the University of Colorado Boulder. They're here with their hand-painted signs to bring this message to college students.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Chanting) V-O-T-E, V-O-T-E, vote.

EJ JOHNSON: This is one of the - mostly one of the most thrilling, heart-racing things I've ever done.

BRUNDIN: That's EJ Johnson. She and her classmates go to the Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies, and if they hear what they want...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I am registered to vote.

BRUNDIN: ...The kids give props.

(CHEERING)

BRUNDIN: They've been learning about the power of voice in politics, like who could vote in early America. Here's Dale Boyer.

DALE BOYER: Only white men with property could vote. And it was just crazy how injust (ph) people were back then to people who are different from them. And that was surprising to me.

BRUNDIN: Also surprising - just how long women had to fight for the vote.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: For, like, 70 years.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: More than that - like, 300.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: No, not 300.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: No, not 300, but, like...

BRUNDIN: It was a long time probably.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Yeah.

BRUNDIN: These fifth graders seem pained at the thought that some people now don't vote. EJ Johnson...

EJ: It's torture to know that so many people worked so hard to get that right to vote and people aren't voting. We shouldn't just throw it away like it's somebody's old garbage.

BRUNDIN: In their research, they learned only less than half of college students voted in the last presidential election, the lowest voter turnout of any age group. Juliana Krigsman says before studying these things, she didn't realize.

JULIANA KRIGSMAN: That our country was so, like, not open-minded.

BRUNDIN: Or that law enforcement was so brutal in trying to deny voting rights to African-Americans, especially in the South.

JULIANA: They would actually go to the extent to try to, like, hurt them to try to stop them physically.

BRUNDIN: They all say that voting is a serious responsibility, maybe one that should be left up to grownups.

Do you think kids should be able to vote?

LILA NEWMARK: Like, well...

BRUNDIN: It's a hard one.

LILA: I don't think kids should vote until they're at least 13...

BRUNDIN: Lila Newmark.

LILA: ...Because they may not know so much about the candidates, and it wouldn't be a very learned vote.

BRUNDIN: I think if you know the word learned at age 10, you should be able to vote. As the march winds down, the kids huddle.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #3: I heard some college saying that not every vote counts, but it - every vote does count.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #4: That's not true. That's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Chanting) Vote; vote; vote.

BRUNDIN: Then out of nowhere, they form a tunnel with their signs for the college students to walk through. If that doesn't make these older kids want to vote, I hope they at least got a smile out of it. For NPR News, I'm Jenny Brundin.

SHAPIRO: We are finally almost there. NPR and reporters from public radio stations across the country are going to be live tomorrow night. We will be going all night long, breaking down national and local election results. You can listen live right here and follow the races that are important to you at npr.org.

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