A number of games can teach kids how to vote in an election and the importance of voting. With the low turnout of eligible voters in the U.S., instilling the idea of voting into students minds could lead to greater participation in the basic process of democracy. Depending on the age of the students, games can be as simple as teaching the basics of voting, or can be about more complex political considerations.
As an introduction to voting for younger children, play a basic voting game. Set up a democratic process in the classroom, and base the game around a topic for students to vote on. This topic can be anything from a new classroom rule to a game students are going to play at recess. Pick two things for students to choose from and create ballots for students to vote on. Let students express their positive and negative opinions on each choice prior to voting, so that students understand the importance of being informed prior to voting. When all of the votes have been cast, count the ballots, tally up the votes and reveal the results to the students.
A mock election will show kids how the process of voting works, and can help prevent kids from feeling left out of the election process. This is an ideal activity for older kids who are able to understand the issues presidential candidates stand for. Prior to election day, set up lessons that teach kids the basics about each of the candidates and their party. Make mock ballots for students to fill out on election day. Create a private area or mock-voting booth in the classroom where kids can go privately to fill out their forms. When they're done, have them drop the ballots in a secure box. When the votes are all cast, tally the votes on the chalkboard so kids can see their winner and compare it to the actual results from the real election.
Swing State Game
While teaching students how to vote and the importance of voting, its also important to teach students about "swing states." Divide the class into teams, one representing the Democratic candidates and the other representing the Republican and have a third smaller group of students be the swing states. If you don't want to influence student's political beliefs, have each party pick one stance on a current world issue or hot topic or an issue up for debate in the school, such as cafeteria menus. Have the Republican and Democratic teams each present its stance on the issue, debate its issues and present short speeches on why its stance is the best selection. Have the students in the swing states pick a side, and present to the class why they chose the side they did. Give a prize or reward to the winning side.
The Campaign Game
This is a game designed for older students to teach the importance of voting and campaigning. Divide students into small groups of three to four students, and have them each pick a celebrity they think would be an ideal presidential candidate. Let the students create a campaign for their candidate with videos, posters and speeches. On election day, randomly match up pairs of candidates to compete against one another in a mock election. Have each group of students present its campaign to the class. Once students have finished presenting, have the remaining students in the class cast votes with ballots on who they think is the better candidate. If you want to make the game more competitive, have the students vote on the winning candidates to determine one overall winning presidential candidate for the class.