Mock elections, real democracy

Nov 1, 2012

As voters in Washington continue to mail in their ballots this week, a group of distinctly smaller citizens is weighing in online. Students across the state are voting in a pair of mock elections, giving democracy a dry run.

At Seattle’s Chief Sealth International High School. politics isn’t exactly front and center for a lot of students. Many do have opinions about the presidential race, or whether to legalize marijuana, but what about these guys Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna?

“No one really talks about that stuff at school,” said ninth-grader Janelle Barlow.

She said even this practice vote force her to learn more about ballot measures and races, like the governor, that she knew little about before.

“Maybe this is something I should think about more, because it does deal more closely to you because it’s your own state,” she said.

Barlow cast her vote on a computer in the school’s library, one of an estimated million students expected to take part in a nationwide mock election run by Youth Leadership Initiative, out of the University of Virginia.

Also this week Washington students will be voting in a separate, statewide mock election run by Secretary of State Sam Reed. He said he hopes students get practice becoming informed voters.

“You need to do your homework if you’re going to be a responsible citizen. You really can’t just accept the 30 second ad on TV or something and make your decision based on that,” he said.

About 25,000 students are expected to vote in the statewide election. Results should be in by Friday afternoon, while the national mock election is set to report results on Monday, the day before the real election day.