As Washington voters fill out and return their general election ballots, thousands of students in grades K-12 soon will get a taste of what voting is like by taking part in the annual Washington state mock election.
Now in its 10th year, the Mock Election is a fun opportunity for students to experience voting for real candidates and measures. Sponsored by the Office of Secretary of State, the Mock Election is a nonpartisan, educational program that teaches kids to be informed voters.
The Mock Election is free and open to all Washington K-12 students, whether they attend private, public or tribal school or are homeschooled. Voting takes place online, starting Oct. 27 at 9 a.m. and ending Oct. 31 at 1 p.m.
Students can vote by going to the Mock Election website at: www.vote.wa.gov/MockElection.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman said the Mock Election prepares students to be active in civic life.
“The Mock Election is a great way to introduce students to voting and why it’s important,” Wyman said. “I hope every Washington student will graduate with the skills to fully engage in our democracy, and have the passion and commitment to do so. Voting is a key part of it.”
The first Mock Election was held in 2004, with 1,552 students participating. About 20,000 students are expected to vote in this year’s Mock Election.
Students will “vote” on three high-profile state initiatives, I-591 and I-594, which both deal with background checks for gun purchases, and I-1351, which seeks to lower class sizes in public schools. Students also will weigh in on their district’s congressional race.
“These are tough issues for kids, but it’s important the next generation of voters learns to respectfully discuss the civic choices we face as adults,” Wyman said.
The Mock Election happens a week before the end of the General Election, and the kids’ results can be an interesting harbinger – or red herring – of how adults may vote. For example, more than 62 percent of student voters last year approved Initiative 522 (requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods), while adult voters narrowly rejected it in the General Election.
“It’s always interesting to see how students vote on key initiatives and key races and whether they vote the same way as the adults,” Wyman said. “This is another reason why the Mock Election is fun.”
So how will the youth of Washington vote next week? Results will be posted online for the state and by school on the Elections Division’s webpage at http://1.usa.gov/bB9M3Q immediately after the election ends.
Teachers participating in the event are provided with kid-friendly voters’ pamphlets and sample ballots, a Teaching Elections in Washington State curriculum book (which meets the common core standards and includes CBA connections), step-by-step voting instructions and a “Vote Here!” poster. Students who participate will receive free “I Voted!” stickers.