A Project for Better Journalism chapter

A Dummy’s Guide To Winning Elections In High School

So you want to win a school election. Hopefully you’ve been thinking about this for a while, because elections in a school like Northview require at least a year’s worth of preparation. I’m not going to lie and say that popularity doesn’t play into elections. Of course it does. But with the proper tactics, you can circumvent that barrier with ease.

When I say that it takes at least a year, I mean to build up your persona. Something that flies well in elections is being someone that’s easy to talk to. In order to win, you should come off as a down-to-earth candidate that’s not afraid of calling it when they see it. That might mean that you’re the outlier in some situations.

Which is good in a way. A lot of people see the council every year as the same group of friends getting re-elected over and over again. If you can manage to dissociate from them while still remaining on the public’s good side, you’re good to go. Remember- you want to seem human. Start talking to people in your grade to see what they’re really like and what they want in a candidate.

Stop thinking that popularity matters so much.  Focus on good publicity rather than that high school cliche of popularity. If you have a positive reputation with your classmates, you’ll prove to them that you can represent them well in the council.

And that should always be your goal in the end. While you’re on the council to bring creative ideas to the table, you’re ultimately there to represent your grade. If you know that your voters would rather have socks rather than shirts, then push for that idea.

Student government spots are only 10% earned during election week. By that time, people have already formed their opinions about you. Remember, it’s about your overall performance and character as a normal person stepping into a position. You’re not magically turning into the perfect candidate. You are the perfect candidate and have been for the entire year.

When it comes time to run, put in the effort. Don’t think your position is in the bag. If it looks like you aren’t even slightly interested in running, then you’ll lose votes. That being said, don’t pester people with “vote for me”s. It’s annoying and you know it. If you’ve garnered attention over the year, people will remember your name. So just say it once and make sure they understand that you would really appreciate their vote. Be sincere.

Of course, going up to people is way more effective then hanging posters. Meet the voters face to face instead of depending on them to read your sign and remember your name. Giving out freebies is a plus, but you don’t want people to feel as if you are buying their vote.

Throughout the campaign week, try standing out from the rest of the candidates. Talk to the voters about what they want to see next year, and what you can do.

If you deserve it and if you work hard enough, people in your grade will think you deserve a spot on the council. Make sure you reach people from all over your grade- in the end, every vote counts as just one, so don’t overlook anyone. Good luck on the campaign trail!