League of Women Voters awarded prize

The Chautauqua County League of Women Voters has been awarded a New York State League prize for its collaboration with the County Board of Elections in conducting mock elections in local schools last fall. The project visited 11 high schools, four middle schools and two elementary schools across the county in September and October of last year, giving 5,686 students the chance to learn about the candidates for president and to see for themselves how to use optical scanners to record their votes.

The initiative for the project came from the Election Commissioners, who provided the scanners and their operator, Tony Popielarz, who printed the special “president-only” ballots. They could afford to create the ballots because their innovative in-house printing process is so cost-effective. However, they could not afford the personnel to direct, assist and manage the flow of students in each location, so they turned to the League.

Warmly embracing yet another opportunity to work together with the board toward common goals, the League not only mustered 25 of its members around the county to serve in the schools, but also created an educational one-page summary of the positions of the six presidential candidates on 10 common issues. This summary was delivered to participating schools in advance, and also was available at the polling sites.

Receiving the prize for youth programs on behalf of the local League at the biennial New York State LWV Convention, Marcia Merrins commented on the outreach of the County Board of Elections and the dedication of League volunteers.

Membership in the Chautauqua County LWV is open to all American citizens of voting age, both men and women, and new members are always welcome. More information is on the website, www.lwvchautauqua.org or call 679-4636.