Million Students and Parents To Pull 'Mock' Election Levers
As voters prepare to go to the polls next month, a group of education, political, and business organizations is planning a "mock election'' to teach students and their parents about voting.
Scheduled to take place on Nov. 3, five days before the general election, the mock election will involve some 5 million parents and students in grades K-12, who will cast their votes for President and state their positions on a range of national issues.
The project has been endorsed by President Reagan, as well as the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford serve as its honorary co-chairmen.
About 2 million people participated in a similar project in 1984, according to Gloria Kirshner, president and treasurer of the National Student/Parent Mock Election.
Although this year's results will be broadcast nationwide by cable television from the New York City headquarters of Time Magazine, the project's sponsor, the election is not aimed at gauging the political preferences of precollegiate students, Ms. Kirshner said.
"Our profession is education, not polling," she said. "The whole purpose of the mock election is to turn around the apathy that keeps young people and their parents from going to the polls."
"Once they have participated" in the mock election, she added, "they get very excited about actually getting involved in a real-world process."
If successful, Ms. Kirshner predicted, the project could have an impact on students' lives be4yond the voting booth.
"The same sense of powerlessness that keeps a youngster from going to the polls also keeps them from staying in school," she said.
To ensure the project's educational focus, several states and districts have developed voter-education curricula and registration programs to go along with participation in the mock election.
The National Association of State Boards of Education and the American Association of School Administrators, along with Time Magazine, will honor states and districts that come up with innovative education projects, Ms. Kirshner said.
In addition, some 23 U.S. senators have sponsored a speech-writing contest, in which young people will be asked to write on the Constitution and the right to vote. Winning entries will be published in the Congressional Record.
For more information about the project, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: The National Student/Parent Mock Election, P.O. Box 36883, Tucson, Ariz. 85704; or call (800) 523-5948.