The voter education department at the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office partnered with 25 elementary and middle schools, conducted 40 elections, and 5,412 students voted on real voting machines for their favorite book – an increase of 1,000 voters over last year’s total.
Since 2003, the Supervisor of Election Office has partnered with public and private schools by taking an active role to conduct the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Program (SSYRA) elections and provide students an opportunity to vote for their favorite book on real voting machines. The SSYRA program is an annual statewide reading program designed to encourage 3rd – 8th grade students to read. Students who read at least three of the selected books are eligible to vote.
In 2005, the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office expanded the voting for kindergarten – 2nd grade students to vote for their favorite book in the Florida Children’s Book Awards program sponsored by the Florida Reading Association (FRA).
The SSYRA and FRA winners at each school are tallied and submitted to Tallahassee for inclusion in the statewide balloting where recognition is given to those authors.
“We believe it’s important to involve these future voters in the democratic process by familiarizing them with the ease of voting,” commented Jennifer J. Edwards, Supervisor of Elections.
In addition to the benefits received from reading, students learn about the election process and how important and easy it is to vote through a hands-on learning approach. Further enhancing the learning process, some of the 3rd – 5th grade students are trained to serve as election workers to conduct the elections at their school. After voting, students receive an official “I Voted Sticker” and a sweet treat.
The Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office conducts various outreach programs and presentations for all ages. For more information visit www.CollierVotes.com or contact Cyndi Young, Education Coordinator at (239) 252-8450.