Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp visited Cousins Middle School Wednesday morning to discuss state government, as part of an effort to expand children’s horizons without the benefit of field trips.
"This is a great way for kids to participate in activities, because we don’t have the money to take them on field trips," said Michael Wilson, the eighth grade social studies teacher. He added the idea is one promoted by new Newton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Mathews.
Kemp spoke to the school’s eighth graders about the responsibilities of his office, which include overseeing voting, corporate registrations, business licenses, securities, the state archives and the state constitution.
He said he’s attempted to use technology to make citizens’ lives easier, including applying for business licenses online. When he asked how many of the eighth graders had cell phones, most raised their hands.
"Your generation will expect that from government," Kemp said, noting that the changes will help people avoid government bureaucracy in an increasingly busy world. He also noted that politicians are using Facebook and Twitter more often to stay in touch with younger Americans.
September is national and state voter registration month and Kemp encouraged students to become more involved in politics, because even though they can't vote, they can inform their parents and influence their decisions.
Kemp said online voting remains years away, because many residents still don't fully trust electronic voting. However, he said that mailing in votes is more susceptible to fraud than online voting would be. Georgia is participating in a pilot program to allow oversees military members to vote online through a secure U.S. Dept. of Defense website.
District 5 Commissioner Tim Fleming also spoke to the children about the roles and responsibilities of local governments. He is Kemp's campaign manager.
Kemp, a Republican, was appointed to replace former secretary Karen Handel, who resigned to run for governor. He will face Democrat Georganna Sinkfield in the Nov. 2 election.