OLYMPIA…As Washington voters cast ballots in the 2013 General Election, thousands of students in grades K-12 will get their chance to vote in the Washington State Mock Election.
Back for its ninth year, the Mock Election is a fun opportunity for students to experience voting for real measures and candidates.
Sponsored by the Office of Secretary of State, the Mock Election is a nonpartisan, educational program that teaches kids to be informed voters. Participating students can practice reading and decision-making skills while becoming engaged and thoughtful citizens.
Taking part in 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. 28 at 9 a.m. and ending Nov. 1 at 1 p.m.
Students can vote by going to the Mock Election website at http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/mock/ .
Secretary of State Kim Wyman said the Mock Election prepares students for an active role in civic life.
"My hope is that every Washington student will graduate with the skills to fully engage in our democracy, and have the passion to do so," Wyman said. "The Mock Election is a great way to introduce students to voting and why it's important."
After last year's Mock Election, 97 percent of teachers surveyed saw significant improvement in their students' comprehension of the voting process.
The first Mock Election was held in 2004, with 1,552 students participating. (There was no Mock Election in 2005.) Last year 38,848 students took part.
With the Mock Election happening a week before the end of the 2013 General Election, the kids' results can be an interesting sign of how the adults may vote.
In previous years, like the 2012 election, the results from the students differed some from the adults.
In 2012, students voted in favor of Initiative 1240, authorizing charter schools, and Referendum 74, legalizing same-sex marriage. Yet, their opinions of I-502 differed from that of the adults;students narrowly rejected the measure to legalize marijuana.
"It's always interesting to watch how students vote on key initiatives and key races and see if they vote the same way as the adults," Wyman said. "Sometimes they vote alike, but not always, which makes the Mock Election fun."
This year 12,000 students are expected to weigh in on two high-profile initiatives, I-517, concerning signature gathering for initiatives, and I-522, concerning labels for genetically modified food.
Seattle students will also choose their favorite mayoral candidate in the race between Mike McGinn and Ed Murray. Ballots are tailored for the different age groups voting to provide an age-appropriate voting experience for all.
So how will the youth of Washington vote next week? Results will be posted online 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.
More information about the 2013 Mock Election can be found at http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/mock/.
For additional information about the Mock Election, contact Lindsay Pryor in the Elections Division at (360) 902-4143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.