For Journalists



Internet Initiative Brings Democracy To Va Schools Mock Ballot Believed Largest Online Election Ever

October 25, 1999 -- On Tuesday, October 26, more than 10,000 Virginia students will showcase what may become the electoral process of the 21st century when they conduct the largest Internet election in the nation’s history.

Students participating in the Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) at seventeen public and private middle and high schools throughout the state will be voting online over the Internet using a secure, encrypted, state-of-the-art "cyber-ballot" that is specifically tailored to each student’s individual voting precinct. To generate each student ballot, the Center has worked with school officials, the State Board of Elections and local registrars to link each student’s mailing address with his or her home voting precinct.

To conduct a mock election of this magnitude, the University of Virginia Center for Governmental Studies has partnered with — an innovative, secure Internet balloting company based in Kirkland, Wash.

"The United States suffers from the lowest voter turnout of any industrialized democracy. Nowhere is apathy and disinterest in politics more apparent than among the nation’s youth," said YLI Director Ken Stroupe. "As America heads into the new millennium, the goal of the Youth Leadership Initiative is to encourage young people to take an active role in our democracy. Just as the Internet is transforming the American economy, so too may it revitalize participation in the American electoral system.  Clearly, as a tool for learning, nothing is more invigorating for young people than technology."

The Youth Leadership Initiative is the signature program at the University of Virginia Center for Governmental Studies. Founded by U.Va. Professor Larry Sabato in 1998, the Center for Governmental Studies is a non-partisan public interest center dedicated to restoring the health of America’s system of representative self-government. Its mission is based on the proposition that government works better when politics works better.

"The Youth Leadership Initiative is the centerpiece of our efforts at the Center for Governmental Studies," Sabato said. "This exciting program will turn our schools and communities into hotbeds for the rejuvenation of our democracy, and it will turn our teachers and our young people into warriors in the crusade for our nation’s political health."

YLI was launched this school year as a pilot project throughout Charlottesville and the counties of Page, Shenandoah, Albemarle and Henrico. The program combines academic excellence with civic and community activities for primary and secondary school students, in an effort to foster a renewed interest and participation in the American electoral process.

Tuesday’s mock elections represent the culmination of YLI’s year-round involvement at participating schools. This program arms educators with a ground-breaking new curriculum, which is full of creative techniques for demystifying politics. And, it gives young people the chance to experience democracy first-hand, within their schools and in their communities. Since its launch last spring, the Youth Leadership Initiative has attracted national attention for its unique approach to teaching young people about democracy. The program will be offered statewide next year and nationally by 2004.

Participating schools include: Charlottesville High School, Buford Middle School, Albemarle High School, Western Albemarle High School, Monticello High School, Henley Middle School, Tandem Friends School, Covenant School, Walton Middle School, Jack Jouett Middle School, Douglas Freeman High School, Central High School-Woodstock, Strasburg High School, Stonewall Jackson High School, Page County High School, Luray High School

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


News Sources UVa
Top News UVa WebCalendar UVa Home Page UVa News Sources UVa Top News UVa WebCalendar UVa Home Page

Top news site edited by Jane Ford (; maintained by Karen Asher (; releases posted by Suzanne Raileanu (
Last Modified: Friday, 29-Oct-1999 11:19:01 EDT
© 1999 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia
Topnews Information: (804) 924-4298.

Sources UVa WebCalendar UVa Home Page News
Sources UVa WebCalendar UVa Home Page UVa Top
News UVa WebCalendar UVa Home Page UVa Top
News UVa WebCalendar UVa Home Page UVa News Sources UVa
Top News UVa WebCalendar UVa Home Page UVa
News Sources UVa Top
News UVa WebCalendar Uva Home Page