Sandy Diamond, director of Kids Voting Missouri at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, received the 2010 Spirit of Justice Award Friday on Oct. 15 from the St. Louis Bar Foundation. Patrick Chavez, from the foundation, presented Diamond with the award.

Kids Voting Missouri and Sandy Diamond, director of the program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, received the 2010 Spirit of Justice Award Friday from the St. Louis Bar Foundation.

“This is a tremendous honor for me, for Kids Voting, the College of Education and UMSL,” Diamond said. “I’m overwhelmed and excited to be recognized by such a prestigious group of people who care about democracy, sustaining citizenship and rule of law.”

Kids Voting teaches K-12 students about the election process, allowing them to research candidates and cast their vote. It was established in 1996 and is administered by the College of Education at UMSL. It’s an affiliate of Kids Voting USA, a national, nonpartisan program.

This year, Kids Voting Missouri has gone green, meaning students from each of the 21 participating districts will cast their ballots online.

Diamond said online voting is important for Kids Voting, since many real voters use touch screens to vote. Additionally, the online process allows for quicker and more accurate results, as well as more detailed and specialized ballots.

In fact, Diamond has created 44 ballots, each geared toward a district and age group. To put this in perspective, other Kids Voting programs throughout the United States will only use one ballot per state, at the most six will be used.

“Some of my schools have asked for special ballots to reflect the ballot issues within their areas, as well as ballot options for various grades,” she said. “I’m here for my schools and for my kids, so if creating specific ballots will help the students, them I’m willing to do that.”

The Spirit of Justice Award is not the first time Diamond’s dedication has been noticed. She and the program were awarded the 2006 Warren S. Solomon Civic Virtue Award from the Missouri Bar and the 2006 Barbara Ericksen Affiliate Excellence Award from Kids Voting USA.

Even with all the recognition, she credits others for her success.

“I have been blessed to have this position. I thank UMSL, the college, the Center for Character and Citizenship Center and Wolfgang Althof, (the Teresa M. Fischer Endowed Professor of Citizenship Education) a truly amazing and supportive boss,” she said. “This award, like the others, are for my 21 districts, 14,000 teachers, 400 schools and 190,000 students.”

The St. Louis Bar Foundation was founded in 1956 to be the charitable arm of The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. It was originally founded by a group of lawyers who made financial contributions for charitable purposes. In recognition of their monetary support, they were designated “Fellows” of the Foundation. Today, the Foundation is an independent 501c3 charity, qualified to receive fully tax-deductible donations.

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Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton