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Students at Southeast Elementary School held a mock election for the Presidential, Congressional and State Legislature races.
Did you know that Barak Obama drives a Ford Escape Hybrid? That his favorite TV shows include The Wire, Sportscenter, Monday Night Football, M.A.S.H. and the U.S. Senate on C-Span?
And did you know that John McCain drives a Cadillac CTS? That his favorite TV shows include 24, Lost, Damages, The Daily Show, The Tonight Show, Late Show, The Sopranos, Prison Break, and I, Claudius?
Third-graders at Southeast Elementary School know these things – and possibly even more than many adult voters – about the Democratic and Republican candidates for President, because they did a lot of research in preparation for this week’s mock election: “Vote Southeast.”
Their tasks included:
putting the ballot together (complete with head shots of each candidate)
researching the candidates and creating posters
and assigning jobs for Election Day
Those jobs included “registrars,” who checked voters’ names against their lists, and voting helpers who explained the computer program (from Zoomerang ) used to cast and tabulate votes.
There was a lot to do. As third-grader Caleb put it in a tired voice, “It took all day long.”
The students’ research sources included the children’s version of *Time, the Nickelodeon site “Nick’s Kids Pick the President,” the online versions of the Weekly Reader and Scholastic News, and because none of these mentions the other Independent candidates – Ralph Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez – they went to their official Web sites.
They also learned a bit about the Electoral College system and how it determines the outcome of the Presidential Race.
And they talked about the other races on this year’s local ballot: U.S. Rep. for the 2nd Congressional District, State Senator for the 29th District, and State Rep. for Mansfield’s 54th District.
A total of 242 voters took part in “Vote Southeast,” including teachers, staff and students.
At the end of the day, Democrat Barak Obama emerged as the winner, with 71 percent of the vote.
Republican John McCain received 26 percent. And Independent Ralph Nadar received 3 percent.
In the 2nd Congressional District race, Democratic incumbent Joe Courtney won by 45 percent, followed closely by Republican Sean Sullivan with 34 percent, and then Green Party candidate G. Scott Deshefy with 9 percent.
And because Courtney is also the Working Families party candidate, he received another 12 percent of the vote.
Third-grader Smaranda pointed out that Nadar didn’t have as much of a chance in this race as the other candidates, “because he wasn’t on TV as much.”
Her classmate Andrew added, “He probably didn’t get a lot of votes because he wasn’t in one of the two parties.”
Asked how they decided who to vote for, many of the youngsters said they voted the way their parents will on Nov. 4, but sometimes added their own interpretations of the issues.
One big issue was taxes. Students said taxes are responsible for people going hungry or otherwise not being able to provide for themselves or their families.
Gabe gave Obama high marks for “making good choices with the environment and not making the taxes go higher.”
Gas prices was another issue. Josh said he chose Obama, “because he will lower them.”
Other students said they chose their candidate based on their party. “It was really important to me how they felt about everyone, all the people,” said Katie. “If there are too many taxes, then people cannot buy food or clothing or live in nice houses. So there needs to be lower taxes and that’s what the Democrats are doing. I don’t really know what the Republicans are doing.”
Likewise, Andrew said he voted for the Democrats, “because they want to take us away from the war, and the Republicans want to keep us there longer.”
Smaranda also said ending the war was important to her, along with lowering prices, “and giving a home to everyone who’s homeless, or at least try.”
Max took a harder line saying he chose Obama because he would end the war and lower taxes, “and because McCain lies.”
Sarah shared that she watched the debates with her parents, and said she was impressed with Obama, “because he actually answered the questions.”
The “Vote Southeast” project was coordinated by third-grade teacher James Hendricks and Enrichment Teacher Susan Irvine. Hendricks said one of the purposes of the project is to encourage children to go home and talk about voting, “It jump starts a lot of discussion,” he said.
[* Students also read about McCain in Kids' Time. ]
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