Raising Citizens on Stevens’ Mind as Session Looms

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Jay Barrett/KMXT

When the Alaska Legislature gavels in later this month, Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens will be seeking to advance a piece of personal legislation that he hopes will bring young folks to the polls – someday, after they’ve register to vote.

“Well, I’m still working on a little bill that I’d like to see passed that has to do with helping kids in our school districts become aware of what it means to be a citizen and how to become a voter and all that sort of thing. I think that’s an area we’ve really fallen down on the last few years. When I was in high school I could hardly wait to vote. And it was such an important point in life to be able to go to the ballot box and vote for your candidate. I think that’s not quite as important,” Stevens said. “Kids don’t see that these days, and we really need to help them. I mean that’s what’s going to keep our democracy going, our federal government is having people who are involved, and listen and care and turn out to vote.”

Stevens, a retired educator himself, says he wants to make the process inexpensive and user-friendly for the teachers.

“If fact, we’re trying to make it at no cost to help teacher figure out how can I – if I’m teaching say, an English lit. class, how can I work something in about the importance of voting and being a citizen,” he said.

As far as voting goes, another idea that is being floated in advance of the legislative session is a way to register voters when they apply for their Permanent Fund Dividend checks.

“I think it’s a great idea. More people should be registered. I know there’s some political opposition to it, but it just does not make any sense. If you can get more people registered, that’s great,” Stevens said. “Of course the next step is to get them all to vote. So I’m all in favor of that. Voter registration, we need to simplify it as much as possible.”

The legislative session begins in less than two weeks.

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