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Image by Joseph Chan

The State of Our Democracy

America has the lowest rate of voter participation of any of the world's democracies. There are 70.2 million Americans under the age of 18 today, the largest generation of young people in our country's history. If present trends continue, most of these children and youth will not go to the polls and vote.

The 1999 New Millennium Report, issued by the National Association of Secretaries of State, found that 55% of youth agree that "the schools do not do a very good job of giving young people the information needed to vote". The vast majority distrusts politics and believe that government is "run by a few big interests looking out for themselves, not for the benefit of all". Only 28% of young people vote because they believe it is their civic duty. Only 21% of young people stated that they "often spoke with their parents about politics or current events" when they were growing up. Many youths are learning not to vote from their parents.

In the wake of the tragedy of September 11, the patriotism of young Americans has exploded with an unexpected poignancy. Now is the time to harness this national pride and teach students that their civic activities really do count. In the end, it is up to us to ensure that, through educating the public and involving students in the electoral process, our precious democracy remains strong as the vibrant heartbeat of America.

"It (the Mock Election) will help us build a stronger nation for the future, and it will be an experience that none of the participants will ever forget."

Senator Edward Kennedy

"The National Student/Parent Mock Election is not only the 'largest voter education project ever' (TIME), but also the largest violence prevention project ever."


Senator Orrin Hatch

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