WHY IS THE NSPME IMPORTANT TO AMERICA?
Fact Sheet #2
The National Student/Parent Mock Election
The nation’s oldest, largest, and most successful voter education project
Why Is the NS/PME Important to America?
Educating the next generation of young voters remains an urgent need:
- An American Bar Association poll found that Americans are not sure what the separation of powers means: only 56% could identify the three branches of government, and one in five thought the answer was Democrat, Republican and Independent.
- Eight of ten 15 to 26-year-olds know that the animated Simpson’s family lives in Springfield, but fewer than half know the political party of their state’s governor, and only 40% can say which party controls Congress, a Rutgers study found.
- Later studies have found only half the primary grade students tested could name George Washington as our first president.
While youth voting rates have increased in recent years, our work is not done:
- Young people 18-31 numbered 50 million in 2008. By 2015, they now constitute one-third of the electorate.
- In the 2006 midterm elections, nearly two million more Americans under 30 voted as compared to the 2002 midterm elections, according to the Pew Charitable Trust. The youth turnout increased from 22.5 percent in 2002 to 25.5 percent in 2006, a 3 percent gain and the greatest percentage increase in turnout for any age group for the second election in a row.
- In the 2008 elections, increasing numbers of young people went to the polls. Concern over hot issues like the war in Iraq, the economy, and immigration no doubt stirred young voters. but there are indications that our Mock Elections have educated and inspired students (and often their parents) to learn more about their civic responsibilities and to register and vote.
- Two-thirds of young people said they had already voted or were likely to vote. But those most likely NOT to vote included 51% of Latinos, 46% of youth with high school or lower education level, 44% of non-college women, 43% of independents, and 40% of women in the South.
- Another factor in the upcoming elections is the growing number of nonwhite Americans, who now top 100 million for the first time.
“The new demographic divide has broader implications for social programs and education spending for youth,” said Mark Mather, deputy director of domestic programs for the Population Reference Bureau, a nonpartisan research group. More than 20 percent of children in the United States are foreign born or have a parent who was foreign born. Nearly half of the children under age 5 are Hispanic, Black or Asian, according to the U.S. Census. We must help all our children and their parents to become educated, informed voters.
We cannot underestimate the influence that future young voters will have in shaping our nation:
- Eighty-eight percent of Americans want their children taught about elections, democracy and ethical behavior starting in elementary school and continuing through high school, according to a survey by Leo J. Shapiro & Associates marketing in Chicago for the National Student/Parent Mock Election. Elections and democracy are central to what the Mock Election stands for.
- The University of Colorado’s evaluation found that participating in the National Student/Parent Mock Election increased political decision-making ability, the belief that voting is important, informed involvement on current issues, the belief that social studies classes are relevant, and the discussion of political and election topics with parents. Participation decreased the sense of powerlessness.