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Action Item: Reach Out to School Boards

posted Aug 29, 2016, 11:29 AM by Aaron Fowles   [ updated Aug 29, 2016, 11:33 AM ]
Hi everyone.

The state of Tennessee is running a mock election with K-12 students across Tennessee.  Unfortunately, the ballot they are using will only include the Republican and Democratic nominees.  Individual schools are welcome to make their own ballots, but I doubt many are likely to do so.   Here is the website for the mock election:

When I contacted the Secretary of State's communication director about this, he responded that the ballots are simplified because they plan on using the same ballot for all schools, Kindergarten through Twelfth grade.  While this makes a degree of procedural sense, it doesn't hold water when you consider that some of the high school students in the state are registered voters and this amounts to state-sponsored disinformation.

Therefore, I have created a sample ballot that lists all of the candidates voters will see in November.  

We need to get this ballot into the hands of every school district across the state.  

I'm attaching to this post the sample ballot in Word and PDF form.  I've also got a spreadsheet with the contact info for all of the school districts in Tennessee.  I used a virtual assistant to get these, so I can't guarantee that they're all good.  If you find an error let me know and I'll correct it.  

We need to contact these boards of education but we also need to SHOW UP IN PERSON and demand that high school students receive an accurate ballot.

I'm going to email all of the districts for whom we have emails.  My email will be:

Dear School Board Member or District-Level Administrator - 

As you may already know, the Secretary of State's office is holding a statewide mock election for President of the United States this fall.  The website for this election is at  

While it is fantastic that the state is providing resources to help Tennessee students understand electoral politics, these same students are also being grossly misinformed.  The sample ballot provided by the state does not include all of the candidates that have qualified to run for President in Tennessee.  Rather, it will only include the candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties, neglecting the other five candidates who have gathered enough signatures to be included.

When contacted, the Secretary of State's office said that the ballot was simplified to accommodate all students in Tennessee since younger children would possibly not understand the complexities of third parties and independent candidates.  Since the same ballot is being used for all grades, the state is only providing simplified ballots.

We have registered voters in our high schools in Tennessee, voters who deserve not only to vote, but also to know for whom they can vote.  There will be seven candidates for president on the ballot in November, including five who will be listed as independent but have a party affiliation not recognized by the state of Tennessee.  Our students deserve better than watered-down civics education.  They deserve to know about competing ideologies and philosophies.  We don't need to feed our voting-age students from the children's menu.

I am attaching to this e-mail a sample ballot that contains the names of all of the candidates for President and Vice President who are qualified to run in Tennessee.  I am attaching it in both PDF and Word formats, which should give your district the opportunity to redesign it as necessary.  Your local election commission should have an official sample ballot within a few weeks, but I thought it wise to get this in your hands as soon as possible to ensure that high schools in your district don't unintentionally limit your students' exposure to their political choices.

Thank you for your dedication to Tennessee's students.

Aaron Fowles
Aaron Fowles,
Aug 30, 2016, 11:00 AM
Aaron Fowles,
Aug 30, 2016, 11:00 AM
Aaron Fowles,
Aug 29, 2016, 11:29 AM