On Tuesday, October 30, a group of Harwood Union high school students will be the first in Vermont to participate in the new interactive voting game, Vote 18. The program is designed to energize the next generation of young Americans to be involved citizens by empowering them with the tools and knowledge they need to be active participants in the political process.

The fun and fast-paced interactive game teaches students the history of voting and makes it relevant to their lives, effectively showing them the value of their vote and motivating them register to vote when they turn 18 and to stay politically engaged over the long term.

During one class period a facilitator takes the students through the history of voting, graphically illustrating voting laws and voting dynamics through student role-playing. While the facilitator may lead the class, it is actually the students who drive the class. Through the dynamics of exclusion, frustration, mock elections, group interaction and rewards, students become emotionally invested in the political process, and learn how they can affect its outcome.

Vote 18 makes voting personal. The game creates feelings of inclusion and exclusion, then leads participants to resolve their conflicts and issues through the political process. Emphasis is placed on the economic and social impacts of voting. The facilitator uses the student mock election to demonstrate why voting is important for both individuals and communities. The game concludes by taking students through the voter registration process and discussing how their participation can benefit both themselves and their communities.

The game is strictly non-partisan and does not endorse any political party nor support any positions on specific issues. The goal is to increase political awareness, promote dialog and encourage today’s young people to become tomorrow’s voters and political leaders.

Ultimately, Vote 18 is successful because instead of just telling students they should vote, it creates a forum where the students show themselves why they should vote.