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Local schools hold mock elections

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

MICHAEL PISTELLA Christ Lutheran School pre-kindergarten student Rafaella Ferreira walks from the voting booth after casting her presidential ballot during her school’s mock election Monday. Jane Gardner, a parent volunteer, organized the election which involved the entire student population. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.

The presidential election might be today, but Monday morning schools across Cape Coral introduced their students to the political process.

Christ Lutheran School on Del Prado Boulevard began its mock presidential election at 9 a.m. A few days earlier students filled out voter applications and were issued registration cards for Monday’s election.

More than 100 students participated in the election, ranging in age from the school’s voluntary pre-kindergarten classes to fifth grade, said Linda Comer from Christ Lutheran School.

“They have learned in their classrooms over the last several weeks about the presidential election, who the candidates are and why we vote for presidents,” said Comer. “They were allowed to wear red, white and blue instead of the traditional school uniform.”

When the voting booths opened in the school’s library, students were taken class by class to vote. Younger students were given ballots with photographs and older students used written ballots. They filled out their ballots, folded them in half and dropped them in an old refrigerator box transformed into a ballot box.

As students went back to class they were given an “I Voted” sticker just like of age voters will get today.

“The whole purpose was not only to teach children the value of the elections process, but it was the brainchild of Jane Gardner, a volunteer parent who put the whole thing together,” said Comer.

Principal Irish Mitchell said the mock election is another learning tool for students.

“This is a unique opportunity for students of all ages to familiarize themselves with the election process,” said Mitchell. “Some parents have indicated this mock election has generated conversation at their dinner table.”

The results of the election were announced at the end of the school day. The school had a total of 95 ballots counted with 68 for John McCain and 27 for Barack Obama.

Also on Del Prado, St. Andrew Catholic School held its own mock presidential election. While the school has held these elections in the past, Dave Bautista, a social studies teacher, said this election was tied in with other schools from across the United States.

St. Andrew used Studies Weekly, a nationwide classroom periodical, to coordinate its mock election with more than 500,000 students.

“It was run by student council who set up a computer lab as a voting booth, and they explained to the other students how they would go in and vote for the candidate of their choice,” said Bautista.

Students had to log onto the Studies Weekly online program and cast a vote for a candidate. The system tabulates the results per state and updates them live for participating students to follow.

Overall, 325 students from kindergarten to eighth grade voted online, he said. They also learned about the electoral college and saw a breakdown of how students voted in other states.

“The Web site doesn’t give you school-by-school, but I would say our school is evenly divided between candidates,” said Bautista.

During the presidential election today, students will look at the results on Studies Weekly and compare them to what is happening live across the country.

Bautista said students were excited to participate in the mock election.

“Even the kindergartners on their way to vote were talking about who they were going to vote for. The students had a great time and it was a great civics lessons,” he said.

Monday afternoon, Studies Weekly said 12,411 students voted Republican and 18,978 voted Democrat. They projected Obama would win the election.