The good news -- turns out they do increase the political knowledge of students. The bad news -- turns out they don't really increase the likelihood of kids to vote when they're older.
So says a study of Canadian schoolkids, according to this story.
It gets worse.
In fact, the report suggests some elements of the program may actually “lead to decreases in certain outcomes – namely intention to vote, agreement that it is a civic duty to vote and confidence in expressing views about politics.”
I don't have the study details in front of me so I can't weigh its methodology and findings, and like a person quoted in the above story I find the results a bit surprising. Typically, getting someone to vote (mock or otherwise) kinda sorta trains them into voting. Get a young eligible voter to cast that first ballot and they are significantly more likely to vote again next time around.
This study suggests, at least for mock elections, at least in Canada, the conventional wisdom doesn't apply.