Yasmin Tadjdeh, Asst. News Editor

With the Virginia gubernatorial race heating up, George Mason University will have its chance to cast its own unofficial ballot. Paralleling the election for governor of Virginia is Mason’s own mock election.

Over the past few weeks students have periodically received e-mails informing them of the Mason Mock Election. Its creator Jared Barton, an economics graduate student said, “Many students, by virtue of being citizens of other states or countries, don’t get to vote on issues here in Virginia. Elected officials and issues in Virginia, though, have a big impact on their time at Mason. The Mock Election allows those students, as well as Mason students who can vote in Virginia elections, to participate a little bit in Virginia politics.”

The Mock Election is an unofficial online election, where students can place their vote for governor and, in the end, see who Mason would have voted for.

In order to participate in the Mock Election, students must register by 11:59 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5, which is also the deadline to register for the actual election.

Registered students then may vote on the Mock Election website, www.masonmockelection.com, between the hours of 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, the same day and hours that the real gubernatorial election are occurring.

Students who register and vote in the Mock Election will then be entered into a drawing for $1,000, funded by a research project through the Department of Economics, said Barton.

“I think [the Mock Election is] interesting,” said Mason Votes Director Christian Smith. “I think anything that raises information about the election is good.”

However, Smith hopes that students will not mistake registering for the Mock Election with registering for the real election.

Levan Bokeria, a freshman sociology major, said he doubts that students will take the Mock Election seriously.

“[I think students] will just register and vote for anybody to get a chance to win $1,000 . . . I don’t think students will take it seriously, especially the international students like me,” said Bokeria.

Senior government major Jennifer Bent said, “I think it would be interesting to see who Mason would vote for. I’m sure some people would [participate in the Mock Election] for the money, but I think it’s an interesting concept.”

In regard to voter apathy in the gubernatorial race, Bent said, “There are a lot of people in our age group who are passionate about voting . . . [but] some people will just vote for the presidential election, and not for the state and local election.”

“[The gubernatorial election is] an important election. We focus on presidential elections … [while] ‘off-year’ elections generate less attention and have dramatically lower rates of turnout . . . but it’s state and local politics that affect many of our day-to-day activities. Remember that the budget for Mason has more to do with Richmond than with the District,” said Barton.

In the 2008 presidential election, 48.5 percent of voters between the ages of 18-24 voted. In the 2006 election, only 22.1 percent of the 18-24 bracket voted, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Students who are eligible to vote are encouraged to register to vote in the Mock Election, as well as the real election, while students who cannot vote are encouraged to register and vote in the Mock Election.

So far, a few hundred people have registered to vote in the Mock Election, according to Barton.

“After the election takes place, we will send our mock vote to the Virginia statehouse, so the elected officials know the views of Mason’s student body,” said Barton.