How to Win a School Election


A 76

[This is an excerpt from Student Leadership: The Political Handbook for Student Government Operations

The PHB/SGO contains 85 chapters and 92 appendix articles (this is article #76) and covers Candidacy, Campaigning, Leadership, and Management of All Types of Student-Controlled Activities and Government (703 pages, large format, 8-1/2" x 11".]

How to Win

a Grade School,

Middle School,

Junior High School,


High School


A Thumbnail Sketch


A modest paperback, How to Win a High School Election, was reviewed on a political book review website a few years back [see below.].


Student government is a topic that is not taken very seriously by elementary through high school administrators ... or faculty members either. Thatís too bad since student politics at all levels offers experience in organization and getting along in groups. And, in managing and leading groups.


The review:


How to Win a High School Election by Jeff Marx, (2001) Jeff Marx Books, New York, NY, 23 cm/9 in., paperback, 174 pp. excluding advertisements. $14.95

"A short, simplistic, narrowly-defined work wherein the title is apt: the book is simply about winning a high school election and no more. In summary, Mr. Marx strongly suggests that the aspiring candidate (1) meet a lot of people, (2) be friendly, (3) be sincere, (4) regard posters as mere reminders rather than primary campaign mechanisms, and most important of all: (5) give a funny campaign speech (preferably pitched to a large assembly).


Along with this limited advice, which is quite sound for high school politics, Marx surveyed hundreds of successful (read: "They were elected.") student leaders. Scores of e-mail replies are offered. There is, therefore, much repetition in the short bits of advice that the high school folks offer. It is clear that high school student government (and campaigning) is light-years distant from college political activity and governance in terms of sophistication. And, no one takes it very seriously since, according to the e-mailed anecdotal data, the funniest candidate usually wins.

Mr. Marx is quite the enthusiast and his advice to "go for it" is sound and all students should take heed of it.

The book has no index. NO RATING." - hcl

[Cautionary note: The reviewer (hcl) is the author-editor of The Political Handbook for Student Government Operations which may be judged as a competing piece.]


As a Thumbnail approach to the modest needs of winning a low grade level (not college) election, the editor offers some few and intentionally limited guidelines.


Plan ahead ... way ahead.


Consult with friends.


Get yourself a campaign manager ... you canít do everything yourself.


Ask those friends for help (in campaigning).


Line up more support (with the help of friends).


Announce candidacy early.


Use cheap publicity ... it increases awareness (of you).

[Jeff Marx (see review above) shuns the use of posters, however they are cheap and provide awareness and name recognition. Although a high school may be small, anywhere from 400 to 1,200 students (more or less), never assume that anyone is well-known.

A large cloth banner hung high and in a prominent place provides name recognition and should be put up as early as possible.]

Work up a good speech with humor.

See your speech teacher or debate (forensics) coach.


Work with the home rooms.

Enlist homeroom captains. Conferring this kind of responsibility creates a degree of loyalty and enthusiasm.


Work with your own homeroom first ... this is a big piece of your political base.

As above, enlist one of your colleagues as homeroom captain.


Start shaking hands, that is,

talk to people,

tell Ďem who you are.

what you stand for,

ask for their vote.


Instruct your captains on the art and science of (1) canvassing and (2) sweeping.

Note that the above guidelines are confined to getting elected. Serving your constituency is addressed elsewhere.


How to win a school election

Of the few books that cover school elections, Student Leadership: The Political Handbook for Student Government Operations is the most comprehensive.

To jump to the web page that describes this well regarded work which has come to be recognized as the standard in the field of student activities and governance, click on the blue-lettered book title below.

The Political Handbook for Student Government Operations  : Review, description, rationale (for), Table of Contents, Excerpts from, and Ordering Information for the PHB/SGO.

To view a complete listing in abstract form of The Political Handbook for Student Government Operations, click here on PHB/SGO Abstracts