Developing Statewide Civic Education Projects/Oregon Student Mock Election

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
League of Women Voters of Oregon Education Fund
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The League of Women Voters of Oregon Education Fund works to encourage active and informed participation in government and to increase understanding of major public policy issues. The Education Fund seeks to empower citizens to understand governmental issues and to participate in the political process. We seek to provide balanced, accurate, nonpartisan information to all Oregonians.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Encouraging young people to participate in good government is one of the ways the League of Women Voters of Oregon Education Fund (LWVOREF) fulfills its mission. Developing a statewide program where youth in middle and high schools can actively become involved in the elective process is an excellent way to teach and motivate a new generation about democratic elective processes. In 2008, the LWVOREF administered the 2008 Oregon Student Mock Election. The Mock Election ultimately involved 324 schools and approximately 76,912 students from all parts of Oregon.

Coordinated by the LWVOREF, a steering committee of educators and not-for-profit civic groups planned outreach, a mock election vote and a student-led press conference that was covered by six media outlets providing statewide coverage of the mock election. The student vote took place the week prior to the November 4, 2008 General Election. Students filled out mock paper ballots, tallied the results and emailed or faxed the results to the program coordinator. All votes were received by 3:30pm October 29th. Elementary, middle, and high school students directed a live-streamed event on October 30, 2008, Oregon Student Mock Election Day. The event was held at the Beaverton City Hall and included a student-led press conference to announce the results and a question and answer session between the press and students. The Mayor of Beaverton and the Oregon Secretary of State attended and each spoke on the importance of voter participation.

Conducting a program that could be available to young people in schools in both the urban centers of Oregon and in more isolated rural communities and to homeschooled students presented a challenge to LWVOREF as an almost entirely volunteer organization. Grant funds from the Help America Vote Mock Election Program through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission enabled LWVOREF to hire a program coordinator to work with local Leagues and in-school volunteers/teachers to create new materials to encourage students to vote.

The LWVOR wanted to make the Mock Election available throughout the state to both schools and home-schooled students. However, because of the size of Oregon and because many Oregon school systems lack the resources for field trips, an efficient alternate means of communication and distribution of materials had to be developed. The League took advantage of the stable infrastructure provided by Microsoft tools and by Internet access available to all school districts to deliver the program directly to schools in all areas of the state. This use of technology enabled students from across our politically and geographically diverse state to obtain study and election materials and to join an ongoing discussion on the LWVOREF-run blog, Oregon Students Rock the Mock the Vote (

On the blog, students discussed their ideas on democratic participation, the importance of voting, voter eligibility, and the benefits and drawbacks of the Electoral College. The LWVOREF also used the Internet to live-stream Oregon Student Mock Election Day. Event highlights were also recorded using Windows Media Video and available for teachers and students to download and watch at their convenience.

The Teachers’ Guide to the Oregon Student Mock Election 2008 curriculum ( was developed by the program coordinator and volunteers in order to provide the most up-to-date information for teachers and students. The Oregon Department of Education reviewed it to ensure that it met the 2008-2009 Oregon Social Sciences Standards. The guide includes a contact list of classroom speakers, resources and activities for researching and debating ballot measures and national issues, history about state and national elections, classroom exercises, discussion questions, and more. LWVOREF also revised flyers, handouts, registration forms, and created the mock ballot, to assist teachers with the Mock Election. Word and Publisher were used extensively to create, edit, and publish these materials.

The interactive PowerPoint presentation, “The Road to Suffrage,” was created in 2006 and was included in the 2008 curriculum. This presentation walked 5th-12th grade students through the struggle to enfranchise all people as voters. This year, another PowerPoint was created to help students better understand the purpose and impact of the Electoral College, featuring interactive maps and an historical look at the electoral vote vs. the popular vote. Student votes, participation, activities, outreach information and cost, including administrative components, were tracked using Excel.

Participants in the program were enthusiastic in their evaluations of the experience. Comments included:

  • “Once they saw how much my students enjoyed the process, the entire 6-8th grades asked to participate in the future.”
  • “Being able to pick and choose among many plans for those most suitable or adaptable for my classes was enormously helpful.”
  • We watched the (Mock Election Day) results online. The students were very excited to see how the rest of Oregon (students) voted!”
  • “(Students) ended up educating their parents on the election process…I know many parents became involved and voted because of what their child was learning.”


Completing a program of this nature in a large and geographically diverse state such as Oregon is only possible when a uniform infrastructure is available. The capacity of Microsoft Office tools to provide this platform for producing high quality materials that can be created, revised, updated, and used electronically, for providing programs that track results and for developing professional presentations has made the 2008 Oregon Student Mock Election possible in a mostly volunteer organization with minimum paid staff.

Recently, the success of the Mock Election program was recognized nationally when the LWOREF was notified that it was a winner of the National Association of State Boards of Education Award for an Outstanding Mock Election.

This uniform infrastructure tool has also been invaluable in aiding other League education projects, including an on-going study of water issues in Oregon. Materials and research were exchanged electronically using Microsoft Office so that team members working 300 miles apart were able to produce and edit materials. A PowerPoint presentation has been placed on-line to provide local Leagues with the tools to present study materials to their communities. Recently established volunteer time sheets tracked on Excel allow the League to maintain an on-going tally of volunteer hours.

At the annual convention of the League of Women Voters of Oregon, League members used examples drawn from these projects and prepared a PowerPoint presentation on moving into the 21st Century. It emphasized the importance of PowerPoint and other electronic tools to reach out to the public.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery