Eleven of the eighteen Chautauqua County school districts will participate in 2012 mock presidential elections.
In partnership with the non-partisan Chautauqua County League of Women Voters, the mock election schedule will kick off at Forestville Middle and High schools on Wednesday.
The remaining schedule is Maple Grove High School, Oct. 3; Clymer High School, Oct. 4; Dunkirk High School, Oct. 5; Falconer High School, Oct. 10; Southwestern High School, Oct. 11; Sherman High School, Oct. 12; Jefferson Middle School (Jamestown), Oct. 17; Cassadaga Valley Middle and High School, Oct. 18; Frewsburg Elementary School, Oct. 19; Fredonia (all grades), Oct. 24; and Jamestown High School, Oct. 26.
"We invited all county schools to take advantage of our in school mock presidential election program and we're excited that eleven schools are participating," said Norman P. Green, county Democratic election commissioner. "We are thrilled to be part of the electoral education process, and happy to offer our young voters the opportunity to vote on the optical scan voting machines."
"We are the very first Board of Elections in New York state to offer this service to our schools," said Brian Abram, county Republican election commissioner. "We are able to do this because our voting machine and ballot printing costs have dramatically decreased with the advent of optical scan balloting coupled with the county's in-house ballot printing."
Green said the county pays 15 cents for each ballot compared to the 57 cents a ballot 57 other counties in New York pay to outside vendors. Chautauqua County's ballots look and work like any other ballot in New York, but county taxpayers pay $50,000 less a year than other counties.
Green said the mock elections in schools is also made easier because the county's optical scanner is programmed in house on a data rather than the labor intensive programming of the old lever voting machine.
The Board of Elections is required by state law to do voter outreach programs and the school visitation for mock presidential voting is part of the county's compliance. Personnel to assist the student voters will be provided at no charge by the Chautauqua County League of Women Voters.
"The League of Women Voters welcomes the Board of Elections' effort to engage high school students in the political process through a mock election for president. We look forward to partnering with the Board to make it happen," said Minda Rae Amiran, League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County's voter service chair.