Kids and mock voting

Am I the only one disturbed by those mock elections they hold in elementary and junior high schools where they “vote” for president?

How politically sophisticated can these tykes be? Exactly how much do they know about the issues? What are they basing their votes on?

I mean, we have enough ADULTS in the REAL ELECTION voting without knowing the slightest thing about the candidates, the issues, or even the government they are electing. Why are we so intent on training our young people to follow in their footsteps in a similar frame of mind?

Yes, you are the only one disturbed by it.

It’s just harmless fun. They’ll grow up, and develop a more sophisticated understanding of the democratic process. Or not. Anyway, I can’t see this as any kind of “training” in voting, any more than, say, passing out valentines on February 14 is “training” in love.

This just in …

Votes cast in elementary school mock elections don’t actually count.

I think it’s for the benefit of the children to learn a little about democracy.

It’s kinda pointless, because they’re all going to vote for what their parents tell them to vote for. Most of their parents aren’t all that concerned with picking the best man for the job, anyway.

Clinton Lewinsky 2004 (Wouldn’t that be one hell of a presidency!)

Education is pointless?

In elementary school, the who the candidates are isn’t the issue. The purpose of mock elections is to educate the children, at least somewhat, as to what the democratic process is all about - so they have an inkling of why their parents sprinted off to the polls.

Fine, they’ll follow their parents opinions, as if they even know or care what they are. We could put John Doe, Crayola Party on one ballot and Jane Smith, Pokemon Party on the other and let them duke it out.

Exactly, it’s for the kids to learn about the process.

It’s harmless fun. Although it’s scary that my freshman year of high school…PEROT won the mock election…

That’s because kids just can’t get enough of goofy short guys with big ears.

My seven-year old son voted in a mock election as part of a lesson on the elections. It really got him excited about the system and he has been asking a lot about the candidates, etc.

I don’t think I follow your logic, moodtobestewed. You say that the electorate is ignorant so we shouldn’t educate the kids? Do you think they’ll be less ignorant if we don’t expose them to the political system?

My son’s preschool teacher told me that the class of four-year-olds was leaning toward Bush, because “bush” was a concept that they were familiar with.

My son asked me yesterday morning whether Governor Bush was, in fact, a bush.

“My son asked me yesterday morning whether Governor Bush was, in fact, a bush.”

—And you told him . . . ?

And how did you answer that? :wink:

Mock elections are also to get kids used to the process of voting, not just the democratic system. In other words, it gets them comfortable with going to a voting booth, punching the card, dropping it into the box, etc. A lot of times, people don’t do certain things just because they’ve never done it before and they don’t really know what to expect. Mock voting helps eliminate this possible cause for non-voting.

Man, Eve, I only come up with a funny one-liner once every 12 months! And you got in there first! Phbtttthhhh!!

I have no problem with teaching children what I would call “the mechanics” of voting - how you must register to vote, how the electoral congress works, what actually happens in the booth, those type of things.

I do have a problem - a huge problem - with having children decide between real candidates before they’ve been taught any critical thinking skills: how to spot a logical fallacy, what a straw man argument is, etc, etc, etc.

If this election is any indication, THAT’S what we need to be teaching our children, because it would appear most adults haven’t gotten around to learning these things.

Now if Zoff’s son started asking good, thoughtful questions about the candidates because of his school’s mock election, I’d say that would be a good thing. But I’d imagine most of the “discourse” surrounding these mock elections is something along the lines of:

Kid #1 “You can’t vote for Gore. He’s so gay!”
Kid #2 “Shut up, you dingleberry!”
Kid #3 “Bush is, like, a butt muncher! You’re sooo stupid!”

To my mind, most adults are only slightly more sophisticated in their decision making process.

Some of you are saying “this is harmless fun” while others are saying “this is a simple learning experience”. I’d say it cannot be both, and I’d suggest that if children are learning anything from mock elections then it’s a deadly serious business. I don’t think anything we teach our children about the democratic process is without serious ramifications.

One of the reasons we have compulsory education is the belief that a good education produces better citizens, and better citizens should produce better government, right? If our current government is any indication, our education has gone awry.

All IMHO, of course. :slight_smile:

WEll, maybe then they should have mock elections and make up candidates?
Like, say, Mister Rodgers could run against Big Bird, or the teachers could each make up two candidates with different proposals?

I say, give the kids a break, and some credit. Who says kids can’t learn something from harmless fun.

When I was in jr. high, we put George from Of Mice and Men through a mock trial. It was fun. We goofed around a lot, but I did learned a little about the law and court processes. And we didn’t hang anybody when the bell rang for recess.

We held a mock election in my school last week. Actually, it was kind of cool because the seniors in political science put on a mock debate where they imitated the candidate’s speaking styles, along with their platforms and whatnot. The good thing about that is that it informed us of the issues (but it was kind of boring if you already watched the debates). Also, it included Nader and Buchanan. But…the thing is that in a heavily Republican town, Gore won because a lot of people who would have voted for Bush (yes, because their parents did, probably) voted for Nader because he said he would legalize marijuana.
Draw your own conclusions…

I don’t think they had any mock elections in the elementary classrooms here (I have a 3rd grader and a kindergartener) but my oldest, in 6th grade, has been discussing the election in her social studies class for several weeks.

One exercise they did was designed to teach them about debating. They started out with the kids choosing sides on a question and physically standing on opposite sides of the room. They took turns offering arguments, and after each kid spoke, anyone who was swayed could walk across the room to join the other side. They were allowed to walk back and forth as often as they wished, as new arguments were brought up. This seems to me to be a very effective way to teach the concept that any issue will have multiple sides and it gave them an opportunity to practise giving a compelling argument.

The discussions she has had at school have prompted some interesting conversations at home.

Also, when they finally had their “election” they took it very seriously. They had mock-ups of voting booths and ballot boxes and went through the whole process very respectfully.

I think you need to give our schools (and our children) a little more credit.

One of the women in my office quoted one of her in-laws as saying, “Of course I voted for Bush. Republicans are boss!”

The speaker is currently on public assistance. :rolleyes:

I believe I just saw this exchange in either Great Debates or the Pit.

I still think there is a net gain in the mock elections. Obviously, my son can not engage in deep political discussions, but he can be exposed to voting and the basics of the process. You can still do this without a mock vote, but using an illustration of the process is better for kids and they seem to get more excited.

Interesting point. I remember being seven years old during the 1968 persidential campaign, when the word on the playground was that Nixon was gonna make us go to school on SATURDAYS if he was elected.

Thank goodness he was eventually stymied by a Democratic congress.