A day before everybody else got to do it, and at least five years before they’ll have their own chance, Clark Lane Middle School held its own mock election Monday, complete with voter registrations, absentee ballots and exit polling.
“The idea of planting that seed, and getting them excited about politics and our form of democracy, seems like a really worthwhile task,” social studies teacher Mark Higgins said, who spearheaded planning the mock election.
Students had to follow much the same process that any adult would follow before voting. They registered beforehand, got an absentee ballot if they were going to be on a field trip and then cast a ballot in both the Presidential race and the Senatorial race between Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy.
“It was really to get the kids involved in democracy, involved in voting, involved in the process,” Principal Jim Sachs said. “It was fun.”
The results? President Barack Obama, a Democrat, defeated challenger Mitt Romney, a Republican, in a landslide, 375 to 176. However the Senate race produced seemingly paradoxical results, with McMahon, a Republican, defeating Murphy, a Democrat, 274 to 272.
In the past few weeks, the school’s social studies classes have been discussing how the election process works, then about each party and then about the candidates themselves, Higgins said. The discussions often led to debates, with students vying for both candidates discussing the issues, he said.
“It is so cool to hear kids talking about politics,” Higgins said. “And I think it is great for them to go home and share what they’ve learned with their parents.”
Monday – a week later than expected after Superstorm Sandy cancelled all of last week – students finally cast their ballots. A system similar to the Electoral College was set up to determine the winner, although instead of states it went by homerooms.
During the mock election Monday, Patch talked with several students on what issues they felt most passionate about and why they voted for the candidate they voted for. The most voiced issues from students were gay rights, clean energy and taxes.
Seventh-grader Logan Bowdish, for example, said he voted for Obama because he felt he had a stronger focus on clean energy. Bowdish also preferred the tax policy of the president.
“I liked keeping the middle-class taxes low,” he said. “And the upper class paying more because they make more money.”
His view was not shared by all. Seventh-grader Aiyana Syr said she Romney, saying he had a better jobs plan.
“(Romeny) is better for the economy,” Syr said. “He will create more jobs by keeping the taxes low on the businesses.”
All the students interviewed said they enjoyed learning about politics and debating it in class. And all said that even when they disagreed with their friends, they still remained friends, and the arguments were fun.
“It was fun because we were debating over it,” seventh-grader Peter Turello said. “But not in a bad way... We are still friends.”