While Washington voters have until November 3 to fill out and return their General Election ballots, thousands of students in grades K-12 will have their own chance next week to experience voting by taking part in the annual Washington State Mock Election.
Now in its 11th year, the Mock Election lets students 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 who attend public, private or tribal school or are homeschooled. Voting takes place online, starting October 26 at 9 a.m. and ending October 30 at 1 p.m.
Students can vote by going to the Mock Election website at: vote.wa.gov/MockElection. Students who participate will receive free “I Voted!” stickers from their teachers.
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 that.”
Students will “vote” on two high-profile state initiatives, I-1366, which seeks to make it harder to raise taxes, and I-1401, which prohibits sale of endangered animals or their parts.
King County students also will vote on King County Charter Amendment 1, which would create a new office responsible for citizen’s review of the county’s police force, and King County Proposition 1, which would increase property taxes to pay for new health and safety programs and services for children, teens and families.
In addition to the two statewide initiatives, Thurston County teens will vote on the two Olympia port commissioner races.
“Ballot measures can be tough issues for kids,” Wyman said. “But it’s important for them to learn how to consider and respectfully discuss the choices we face as adults.”
The Mock Election happens a week before the end of the General Election, and the kids’ results sometimes offer an accurate glimpse on how adults may vote – or not. Last year, just over 51 percent of student voters approved Initiative 1351 (lower class sizes), while nearly 51 percent of adult voters said yes to it in the General Election. About 55 percent of students and adult voters alike rejected I-591 (prohibiting background checks on guns that exceed federal law). More than 68 percent of student voters OK’d I-594 (universal background checks on gun purchases) compared to 59 percent of adult voters approving it.
“It’s always interesting to see how students vote on key measures and whether they vote the same way as the adults,” Wyman said. “This is another reason why the Mock Election is fun.”
Results will be posted online for the state and by school on the Elections Division’s webpage at 1.usa.gov/bB9M3Q immediately after the Mock Election ends on October 30.
Teachers participating in the event are provided with kid-friendly voters’ pamphlets and sample ballots, and a recently updated Teaching Elections in Washington State curriculum book, which meets Common Core standards and includes Classroom Based Assessments with each unit, step-by-step voting instructions and a “Vote Here!” poster.
The first Mock Election was held in 2004, with 1,552 students participating. About 10,000 students are expected to vote in this year’s Mock Election.
For additional information about the Mock Election, contact Lindsay Pryor in the Elections Division at (360) 902-4143 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Pryor also can provide contact information for local teachers who have said their students are voting, for an in-the-classroom perspective.