Mock debate designed to energize young people as future voters
By: Emily Jacobson
November 8, 2008

With the presidential election finally having wound down, the folks at Changing Hands Bookstore are contemplating a 2012 repeat performance of their National Mock Debate.

The event, designed to excite political interest for those on the cusp of legal adulthood, brought together participants 17 and younger to participate in debate and then vote for the candidate with whom they most agreed.

Changing Hands publicist Holly Nelson, who organized the event as a way to include teens in the political process, said those who participated agreed it was a worthwhile endeavor.

“[We wanted the event to be an] opportunity for youth to get their voices heard.”

Participants got a chance to win prizes while interacting with special guests. Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a leading proponent of national mock elections, spoke at the event with several other guests such as Young Democrats of Arizona President Cole Hickman, who ran a workshop, and Matt Wharton, president of the Arizona Coalition for Youth for John McCain.

The event even drew the early interest of such notable political figures as Sandra Day O’Conner, who was scheduled to attend but had to defer due to scheduling conflicts.

Nelson says she has faced the challenges of weak community response and apathetic youth in the past, but was hopeful that by working with local high schools and teachers, Changing Hands would be able to turn the tide of teen political involvement.

According to Nelson, young people should be conscious of the importance of voting and political awareness.
As a “community gathering space…Changing Hands wants its patrons of all ages to be heard.”

Although Nelson says she is conscious of the predominantly liberal demographic of Changing Hands, she encouraged those of all political bents to attend the event.

“We designed it to be open to all, and we based our planning on it providing a forum for rigorous debate.”
The importance of the just-concluded national election undoubtedly gives consequence to a Mock Debate/Election that will allow young people to be heard in future campaigns.




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