Students practice civic engagement for the second year

Mock election teaches the act of voting to high schoolers

Dhani Srinivasan, Opinions Editor
Originally published November 27, 2019

Skye McDonaldStudent coordinators Isabella Crone-Baron and Cameron Donelly

Skye McDonald

Student coordinators Isabella Crone-Baron and Cameron Donelly

On November 5, as Washington voters visited the polls, students were able to practice voting on their own at an election booth set up near the main office. This was the second time that mock elections were held in school after they were started during last year’s midterms. 

Students casted votes both in person and online on contentious races and issues. 

In the school, Dan Strauss won with 62% of the vote for District 6 of City Council and for School Board District 1, Eric Blumhagen won 56% of the vote. Referendum 88 was rejected by 63% of students, Initiative 976 was also rejected by 70%, and the advisory votes on the tobacco tax and petroleum products tax were both maintained by 74% and 70% respectively.

Junior Isabella Crone-Baron, one of the leaders of the mock election committee, became interested in civics during her freshman year and helped run the pilot program last year. There, she saw how important it was to educate students on how to vote. 

“When you turn 18, voting is your civic duty,” Crone-Baron said. “By learning about how to vote in the classroom, it gets you prepared on how to do it in the real world.”

Mock elections do not just introduce the act of voting to students but also the research that goes behind it. 

“When you are learning about the initiatives in a mock election it teaches you to get more informed about the issues,” Crone-Baron said. “If you are researching these things now, in the future you will be better prepared to become a more informed voter.”

Junior Cameron Donnelly, another mock election committee leader, emphasized the importance of getting students used to the ballots.

“It’s important to see the type of language they use,” Donnelly said. “No one really teaches you how to read [ballots]. It’s just like you’re 18, you can vote now, you can do what you want.”

Donnelly also noted that many students were excited at the prospect of voting, even if it wasn’t real. Simply introducing elections allowed students to become more involved in politics.

“We heard two people walking by and one was saying, ‘you should not vote for this person,’ It was nice to hear such stimulating conversation about the elections.”

Junior Kyla Ulibarri said the election forced her to assess her personal values and the needs of her community. 

“You need to think about all the different impacts that a vote can have,” Ulibarri said. “For the car tabs it is really important to remember that, yes, it will lower the cost for cars which is really important because you have to take into account different economic classes but you also have to balance the importance of funding for roads and transportation.”

During Advanced Ballard Time, senator Reuven Carlyle and School Board Member Eden Mack came to speak with students on the importance of voting and historical fights to gain the right.

“[Carlyle and Mack] talked about how much of a voice you can have by voting and how much effect your vote can cause,” Crone-Baron said. 

Carlyle and Mack also talked about their duties in order to expose more students to careers and politics. 

In addition to hosting high profile speakers, the mock election allowed the Municipal League to register over 200 students to vote — a new record. 

“The statistic of young people that vote is so low,” Crone-Baron said. “If youth had greater turnout, then political outcomes would change dramatically.”