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Mock Elections, Debates Spark Interest in Children

More than 200,000 children in Indiana will cast ballots in a mock election on Election Day. (
More than 200,000 children in Indiana will cast ballots in a mock election on Election Day. (
October 31, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Thousands of Hoosiers will be casting ballots next week, but their votes won't count.

It's a civics lesson for students ages five and up. Indiana state law requires students from 6th to 12th grades be given lessons on the country's election process.

The Indiana Kids’ Election takes it further through a joint effort between the Indiana State Bar, the Secretary of State's office and the Indiana Department of Education. It's under way in all of the state's 92 counties and more than 200,000 students are expected to cast a ballot for president, governor and senator.

Carissa Long, director of Public Relations and Social Media for the Indiana State Bar Association, says the idea is to create a habit of voting while children are very young, so they'll continue throughout their lives, and so they can spread the message of the importance of voting to others.

"Our goal is that a child goes home on Nov. 8th with a sticker that says 'I voted' and it sparks up a conversation with their parents, and hopefully their parents have voted," she explains.

In addition to the mock election next week, students from across the state got to attend a town hall debate between the gubernatorial candidates last month, and presentations by local attorneys are being made in all 92 counties.

Long says the effort is paying off. After the last election, a teacher reported that one of her young students encouraged her mother to become a first-time voter.

"That gets to the heart of our program is just sparking up that conversation, in that special instance the child is teaching their parent about the importance and encouraging their parent to vote," she states.

Schools that have not signed up to participate can do so up until Election Day at

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN