Middle school students cast ballots in mock vote

Sun News correspondentNovember 14, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Barack Obama was re-elected last week.

That is old news, you are thinking to yourself. But while he was re-elected by adult voters, he was also the candidate that won at the mock election held at Huntington Middle School on Nov. 6.

Kristi Slavik, a teacher at the school, over saw the election process that began with voter registration.

Students had to fill out a registration form during homeroom the week prior to the election and were issued voter ID cards.

“We wanted to teach them about the process from start to finish,” said Slavik. “We also wanted them to learn that they have a voice and that voting is important.”

The ID card served as their ticket into the voting booth on Election Day. Without it -- just like an adult has to show ID to vote -- students were not allowed to vote.

Slavik had students who tried to register on Election Day, but they were turned down.

“We tried to stress the process that they would go through when they grow up,” said Slavik. “Adults that don’t register prior to the election don’t vote.”

Student poll workers checked IDs and then checked off names before handing out official ballots. Voters then went to a booth where they bubbled in their choice for president.

Social studies and enrichment classes at Huntington used the upcoming mock election as a discussion point for the real election, and Slavik said students seemed to be discussing the election at home with their parents.

“They were repeating things that they heard at home. It is great that they were talking about it at home,” said Slavik.

Ballots were dropped into bins based on homeroom. Electoral College votes had been assigned based on the size of the homeroom.

Slavik said a great deal of effort went into making the mock election as real as possible. The school even conducted exit polling, and students got a Georgia voting sticker.

“It was an exercise in showing their role as a citizen, when they turn 18,” said Slavik. “But it was also about teaching responsibility. In life, you have to follow the steps to participate.”

Lola Harrell and Devin Meck, both seventh-graders, voted for President Obama. Devin chose Obama because he thought he could do a better job of lowering the debt.

Lola had more specific concerns.

“President Obama said he could change things. There are thing that he needs to change. There is a money crisis, and things cost too much. Yesterday, I went to the store to get gum. It used to cost 13 cents and now it costs 25 cents.”

Mitchell Griffin, also a seventh-grader, chose Republican challenger Mitt Romney citing social issues and the debt as his reasons.

“I think it is time to give someone new a chance to fix things,” Mitchell said. “I have heard people talking about President Obama and why they don’t like him, and I think it is time for somebody different.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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