Students cast ballots, study government in mock election
by Staff Writer
Students across Mecklenburg County will cast their votes in the upcoming election, taking the opportunity to learn about local government and the democratic process through the local chapter of Kids Voting.
“The Kids Voting election is a program we offer that helps students learn more about government and civic responsibility,” Amy Farrell, the executive director of Kids Voting Mecklenburg, said. “Students are able to learn about how government and elections work at school and then have the hands-on experience of learning about real candidates and casting a vote.”
Students from kindergarten through 12th grade learn about candidates for offices from mayor to school board and vote based on real issues affecting their communities. More than 45,000 Mecklenburg County students voted in the 2010 midterm election.
“We have different opportunities throughout the community including online voting, schools that have set up programs and a partnership with the Board of Elections to set up at voting sites, allowing kids to vote while their parents are voting,” Farrell said. “We have a variety of ways for people to participate because we want everyone to have the opportunity to take part.”
The program also offers resources that teachers and parents can use to reinforce what students learn by participating in the election.
“Students become familiar with the election process and develop voting skills,” Farrell said. “They learn about offices like the mayor, the city council and the school board, and they learn that Charlotte has a mayor, but if you live in Matthews, Matthews has a different mayor. They learn about how local governments work and make decisions.”
The student election results aren’t official, but program leaders release the results every year.
“After the polls close, we count up the votes and announce them,” Farrell said. “Students know their votes don’t count as far as getting candidates into office, but it’s a way for them to have their voices heard.”
The program also gives students the chance to earn community service hours by volunteering at early voting sites and official voting precincts in October and November.
“It’s important for students to know how their government and communities work,” Farrell said. “It’s important to learn about the voting process, but it’s also important to understand how your government works all year long. People get excited about presidential elections, but local elections are actually a better educational example.
Students in Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson will get to vote on their town’s races as well as county and school board elections.
Students in Mecklenburg County’s public, private and charter schools will be voting in their classrooms through Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. Each school will set up how to vote differently, Farrell said. Students should speak with their teachers about how to cast a vote.
Students also can vote at North Regional Library in Huntersville Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Students also can participate by locating a polling place or casting a ballot online at www.kidsvoting.org.
Want to help?
Kids Voting Mecklenburg is looking for volunteers to staff the Kids Voting booths in Cornelius and Davidson on Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 3:30 until 7:30 p.m. To help email email@example.com.