“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Wrightwood, CA – With a spirit that would have been admired by George Washington, the ANCA-Western Region was busy this summer teaching hundreds of AYF Camp Big Pines campers that their vote in our democracy matters. Over the course of the summer of 2015 the ANCA-Western Region conducted seven mock congressional elections, where campers got real-time experience of what it is like to participate in a real election.
“Nothing is more important to the ANCA-Western Region than educating a new generation of Armenian Americans that participating in our democracy – by voting – is an essential part of advancing the Armenian Cause in the United States,” remarked ANCA-Western Region Chair Nora Hovsepian. “I am proud of our partnership with AYF Camp Big Pines in teaching hundreds of campers this summer why being an educated voter is so crucial to both the future of America’s democracy and to our common cause,” she added.
“We are always thrilled to have the ANCA-WR run the mock presidential election at camp. We have so many bright campers and this educational really engages the campers, showcasing their intelligence by making them think on their toes. It’s really nice to see the campers working together and voicing their thoughts and opinions on things that matter the most,” stated AYF Camp of California Executive Director Emineh Noravian.
The ANCA-Western Region mock congressional elections at AYF Camp Big Pines consisted of three political parties – each trying to get their candidate elected with a majority of votes. The campaign involved each political party freely nominating a candidate and establishing positions on a variety of domestic and foreign policy issues, ranging from how to regulate tobacco use to U.S. policy with respect to Tibet. At the same time, the political parties faced tough questions from a number of campers who played the role of the media, representing NPR, CBS News, Fox News and other media outlets. Adding a final touch of complexity to the elections, a number of campers were deployed to spread rumors, seeking to divide the unity typically formed among members of the same party.
The express purpose of the ANCA-Western Region mock congressional elections at AYF Camp Big Pines was to give the campers a genuine and first-hand perspective of what it is like to be a participant in an American election. The ANCA, week in and week out, shared with the campers that elections are won by people who directly participate in them, not by bystanders. This fact, of the need to be directly involved in elections, by voting or campaigning for a candidate, represented the “teachable moment” that most AYF campers took away from their ANCA-Western Region mock congressional election experience.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.