In this Empire file photo from May 2018, children play with then-Principal of Riverbend Elementary School Michelle Byer at Dimond Park Field House. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

In this Empire file photo from May 2018, children play with then-Principal of Riverbend Elementary School Michelle Byer at Dimond Park Field House. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Election events draw families, kids

All six Legislature candidates will be at a Friday meet and greet

Update: The hours have changed for early voting at the Mendenhall Mall Annex for the statewide election on Nov. 6. Starting Oct. 22, early voting hours will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The annex will also be open Saturday, Nov. 3 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 4, noon-4 p.m.

They can’t vote until they’re 18, but children shape American politics long before that.

Several events this month aim to involve kids and families in the political process and to ask questions of Alaska Legislature candidates on family issues.

On Friday, Juneau parents and kids are invited to a free Meet the Candidates event at the Dimond Park Field House, which will include games for kids and food for the whole family. The Southeast Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children hosts the event at 5-6:30 p.m. All six local candidates for Alaska Legislature will meet with parents to hear views on education, child care and other issues important to families, organizers said.

“Parents with young children are really busy and it’s hard for them to find the time to go to some of the candidate events,” AEYC Executive Director Joy Lyon told the Empire. “This makes it really easy for them.”

AEYC held a similar event for candidates in the municipal election. It was informative for candidates and families, Lyon said. They’d like to replicate that for legislative candidates up for a vote in the Nov. 6 statewide election.

Candidates have told Lyon that they’ve benefitted from the insight parents and children have provided.

“It’s great for the candidates too because they get to hear from the constituents directly,” Lyon said.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, AEYC and several other groups will host another popular Kids Vote! event at the Mendenhall Mall Annex. From noon-2 p.m., kids are invited to vote with their families. Parents 18 and older can officially cast their votes for statewide election alongside their children, who are invited to cast their ballot in an unofficial vote in a child-size voting booth.

The idea is to make it easier for parents with families to vote early. Balloons, stickers, snacks and prizes will be free, and the kids ballot features candidate photos to make it a little easier for children.

AEYC does tally up votes for Kids Vote! ballots, Lyon said, and kids have generally paralleled adults in their voting habits, Lyon said. (In the Juneau mayoral race, for instance, children voted to elect Beth Weldon.)

Starting Oct. 22, early voting can be done at the Mendenhall Mall Annex for the statewide election on Nov. 6. Hours will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The annex will also be open Saturday, Nov. 3 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 4, noon-4 p.m.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


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