Alaska students to be given chance to vote before general election

Posted: Friday, October 13, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- High school students around the state will have a chance to cast their votes for candidates in this year's general election and it will happen before most adults even see a ballot.

Starting Oct. 23, Alaska will participate in a nationwide online mock election aimed at high school students.

The mock election is organized by Youth-e-Vote, a national nonprofit organization. Students will be able to vote for candidates running for president, the U.S. House and the six ballot propositions.

Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer's office is spearheading the event in Alaska. It will run through Nov. 2, when the votes will be tallied and announced.

The mock election will give students a chance to express their opinions about things, organizers said. It also is directed at getting students into the habit of voting so they will vote as adults, they said.

Only 32 percent of all 18- to 24-year-olds voted in the 1996 general election. Alaska's turnout for that election was slightly higher, or 36 percent.

The Youth-e-Vote mission is similar to that of Kids Voting, a nationwide program that allows youth to vote at the polls with their parents.

While the program draws a great deal of interest from younger students, high school students are a harder sell, Fairbanks Kids Voting coordinator George Roderick said.

''It is harder to get the older kids involved in Kids Voting because they really know that their vote doesn't count (in the regular election),'' Roderick told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

''I think (this) is a positive attempt to hit the kids again and hopefully Kids Voting has given them the exposure to voting in the primary- or intermediate grades.''

The results of the mock election could catch the interest of political candidates because the results are announced five days before the general election, Roderick said.

While a study never has been done, the Kids Voting results in the past usually have mirrored those in the regular election, he said.

''I think if a candidate didn't put any reliability into that, then they are really not taking the thing seriously,'' Roderick said.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.


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