Students Get a Taste Of the Political Process
With the presidential campaigns heating
up, several groups are looking for ways to better engage high school
and college students in the electoral process.
Democracy in Practice, CollegeClub.com, and the New Hampshire Youth Voter Alliance invited high school students from New Hampshire to take part in a convention held Jan. 13-15.
The convention, designed mainly for college students who are active in politics, this year included students from about 90 high schools in New Hampshire. About 2,000 college students and about 1,000 high school students were expected to attend the event, called College Convention 2000, or CC2K.
Several candidates from the two major parties, including Democrat Bill Bradley and Republicans Alan Keyes and Sen. John McCain, accepted invitations to speak at the three-day event, as did Reform Party hopeful Patrick J. Buchanan. Other candidates who were expected to speak included former Rep. John Anderson, an Independent who previously ran for president in 1980, and Lyndon LaRouche, who is running as a Democrat.
In addition, the group was slated to hold discussions and forums on topics such as drug policy, the environment, gun control, and health care. Students planned to hold a mock election for the presidency and a variety of special-interest resolutions.
Hunter College in New York City is also hosting a mock "Presidential Convention 2000" over three weekends this month.
The college is bringing together about 450 students from 30 public high schools in the city, as well as some of their social studies teachers, to take part.
The high schoolers, instructed by Hunter College students, will act out the roles of delegates to the two major parties' conventions. They will formulate platforms for the party and state to which they are assigned and then vote for the presidential candidate who best fits their ideals.
The results will be posted online at www.hunter.cuny.edu/pc2000
Meanwhile, Project Vote-Smart has deemed this year's presidential candidates "the worst crop in recent history," because only five of nine major contenders bothered to fill out its questionnaire this year.
The eight-page survey, with questions ranging from education to campaign finance to national defense, was sent by college students to more than 100 individuals who have filed to run for president. Last week, the group reported that only four major candidates, all Republicans, returned the information on time: Mr. McCain, Gary Bauer, Malcolm "Steve" Forbes, and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch. Another Republican, Mr. Keyes, returned the information late.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination, completed the group's survey of governors in 1998, but did not respond to this year's survey.
Project Vote- Smart is a nonprofit partnership between political leaders, media outlets, and foundations that seeks to better inform and engage young Americans in the political process.
The surveys queried the candidates on education issues such as vouchers, block grants, national testing, and teacher testing. Results for the candidates who responded are available online at www.vote- smart.org/ce/p_index/p-cand.phtml?show=P&checking=#TOP.
— Joetta L. Sack
Vol. 19, Issue 19, Page 25