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Prepare Your K-12 Students to Vote Online

Prepare Your K-12 Students to Vote Online

American parents are eager to teach children about democracy and the value of voting.

Schools across the country organize election education and voting events. Learning opportunities start with the basics of math and reading and extend into lessons of history, government, and citizenship. Moreover, elections also enhance students’ interpersonal and speaking skills.



Voting in a K-12 Setting

Voting practice can be introduced into the curriculum according to age-level appropriateness. Young children may vote with a show of hands. Middle school students organize and run more formalized representative nominations, campaigns, and elections.

Parents may remember student elections on paper ballots, but, increasingly, schools are choosing electronic voting.

Online voting can be more practical to execute. Moreover, it helps prepare students for the many real-world situations that preference digital voting.


How Teachers and Volunteers Can Support Student Voting

K-12 teachers or school administrators can use online voting to:

  1. Take a survey vote
    Empower student stakeholders by surveying students about preferences. For example, do students prefer a field trip on Wednesday or Friday?
  2. Express interest in, or select, activities
    If the school system can only afford one option, why not allow students to vote for the option that is most appealing?
  3. Elect representatives
    Older students can elect class representatives to meet with school administrators, teachers, and others in official capacity. These roles include Class President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and other, school-specific roles.
  4. Make decisions about their school or extracurricular education
    Student clubs may use online voting to garner support for a recycling program or allocate annual community fundraiser funds to specific initiatives.

School teachers and administrators can enlist the support of parents and volunteers to enhance the learning opportunities presented by an election. Asking for specific assistance can help with operations and defray costs. A well-publicized event can engage the parent community.


Best Practices for School Administrators and Teachers:

  1. Obtain parental permission for voting participation
    • Explain the learning opportunities for students. For example, highlight collaborative student projects between teachers or departments in support of the election.
    • Remind parents of added time commitments this may require of students.
    • Use this opportunity to ask for volunteers, financial contributions, and/or supplies.

  2. Display nomination and voting rules in advance for all to see
    • Articulate requirements before an election to significantly reduce conflict or confusion.
    • Share election requirements widely. The school website, parent email, or newsletter is the ideal place to distribute this information. For example, Pembroke Middle School in North Carolina explains all procedures for student elections on the school website.

  3. Set aside classroom time for student nominations, campaign development, and the election itself.
  • Combine election activities with multiple learning disciplines. Many election-related tasks can be combined with everyday lessons. For example, all students might be required to write a candidate profile for themselves in English class, even if only a few are actually running for office.
  • Consider a celebration event the day of elections. This elevates the event in the eyes of students. It could even involve parents and volunteers, too.


Online Voting Tools for Students

Select online voting software for its security and ease-of-use. Most students are comfortable with computer use but will need training on specific voting software.

Best Practices Assisting Students:

  1. Set up a ballot that can be edited and reused as a template for future years. This will reduce the need to re-introduce the software to students the following year.
  2. Ensure that the software allows for anonymous voting to ensure student privacy. This point may be a teachable moment to discuss with older students the value of privacy in democracy.
  3. Demonstrate the voting process to students prior to the election. This is helpful for incoming students. Ideally, use the same voting software every year.
  4. Recreate a public voting setting. Set up one or more iPads or other tablets as the school’s designated voting machines. Consider mimicking the adult experience of a voting booth so that students must enter a special area to cast their votes.
  5. Announce the results the same day. Reinforce the value of voting and lay the groundwork for elected representatives to execute on their campaign goals.

Preparing students for voting presents a unique opportunity to touch on many subject areas. Online voting is particularly useful training for the future.

Interesting in implementing online voting in your classroom? See how easy it is to use our self-managed voting platform to encourage voting among your students.

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