Denver Clerk’s pilot program prepares students for fall mock elections

Published on August 04, 2021

A select group of students are now prepared to run mock elections within their high schools following the completion of the city’s first-ever elections administration educational initiative. 

The Clerk’s Summer Youth Program, a six-course pilot designed to immerse students in the voting process and increase civic engagement, concluded Monday, August 2. In collaboration with Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) College View and DSST Conservatory Green, the Denver Elections Division taught students all aspects of elections administration, including: voter engagement and communications, operations, data management, ballot design, processing and tabulation, GIS mapping, voter services, election judge recruitment, and budget management. Students were also introduced to other functions of the Office of the Clerk and Recorder, including Recording, Public Trustee, and City Clerk.

“We created this program because it’s important for young people to understand that although they are not yet eligible to vote, they still have a role in this democracy,” said Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul D. López. “Not many understand what we do. It requires hard work, it requires discipline, dedication and heart, and for these young people to have that in-depth knowledge of what we do and be able to apply it—that’s extraordinary.”

Participants of the Clerk’s Summer Youth Program began preparations to organize and administer mock elections modeled after Denver’s upcoming November 2021 Coordinated Election. Ballots for the students’ mock election will include the same initiatives slated to appear on the county’s official ballots. Assisted by the Denver Elections Division, the students will design the ballots, raise awareness about the election, administer the election, then tabulate and share the results. Election Day for youth voting will take place in October, just as the elections division mails ballots to more than 460,000 active registered voters in Denver.

The ultimate goal of the program is to broaden the base of active young voters and deepen their knowledge about elections in an accessible way. “All of the people involved in this program were welcoming and inclusive,” said Laura Jaime, a junior at DSST College View. “Even though the information given was in-depth, I was hardly ever confused because they made sure I understood all of the technical terms before moving on.” 

A debrief of the program’s weekly courses included open dialogue amongst students, Clerk López, and staff. In addition, student survey results will inform administrators of the curriculum’s strengths and areas of improvement to help shape the future of the program.