By the end of October, tens of thousands of Oregon students will vote in the ’08 political election. Most, of course, are well below the required age of 18, but that won’t stop them from casting their votes for President, U.S. senators, representatives to Congress, and Oregon ballot measures. This isn’t voter fraud. It’s the 2008 Oregon Mock Election, a terrific program sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oregon. By learning about the political process now, students will be prepared when they reach voting age to be active participants in our democracy. That’s the whole idea, according to Project Coordinator Krista Horning.
From Pendleton to the Oregon Coast, and up and down the Willamette Valley, schools have signed up for the program with unprecedented enthusiasm. More than 250 schools are participating this year, Horning reports. In some cases, individual teachers have signed up one or two classes within their school. Then, when administrators learn about it, they want the entire student body to participate.
The League of Women Voters of Oregon provides curriculum to educators focused on several important topics, from why voting matters to how our ballot initiative system works. Armed with knowledge of the process, the issues and the candidates, students then cast their votes on ballots that simulate real Oregon ballots.
The greatest benefit of the Mock Election program is not that it encourages voting, but that it encourages informed voting. Classroom learning paired with hands-on experience is a winning combination.
Oregon’s Mock Election results will be announced on October 30th at the Beaverton City Hall. For more information, visit the League of Women Voters of Oregon website at www.lwvor.org.
### Erika Weisensee is a writing mom. She lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.