"Early voting" is officially underway in Tennessee's first ever statewide Student Mock Election. Teachers from schools across the state were able to begin entering their results yesterday.
Results must be submitted by 4 p.m. CDT on Mock Election Day, Nov. 1. Mock presidential election results will be revealed Nov. 2, less than a week before the real general election.
There are currently more than 500 schools participating from 91 of the state's 95 counties, meaning an estimated 241,000 students are doing something most children can't: vote for president of the United States.
"Our response has been overwhelming. Educators from all across the state are excited about this program and I know students are eager to participate," said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. "Our hope is their interest in voting continues as they become young adults."
Students in preschool through high school from all public and private schools as well as home school associations in Tennessee can participate. Ballots letting students choose between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and all qualified independent presidential candidates were provided, but schools could conduct elections locally in different ways. The essay submission deadline is Nov. 4.
Students are also entering an essay contest to encourage them to be actively engaged citizens. Essays topics will be about voting and length requirements vary by grade. Schools may submit two essays at each grade range. Winners from each range will receive a TNStars 529 College Savings Program scholarship worth $100, $250 or $500 in addition to a trip to the State Capitol.
The program also offers lesson plans created by Tennessee teachers. The goal is to offer an easy way for teachers to incorporate civic engagement and citizenship into their curriculum leading up to the Student Mock Election.
For more information on the essay contest, the Student Mock Election or lesson plans visit: sos.tn.gov/civics