BES students cast votes
Three hundred and three Baldwin City Elementary School students participated in last week's election by voting in the Kansas Student Mock Presidential Election program.
Before voting they watched the debates on television, compared the candidates' biographies, then chose a candidate that they felt best represented them. They worked the polls, they counted the votes, and by Wednesday, BES principal Tom Mundinger announced the winner.
Unfortunately, the nation did not follow Baldwin elementary's lead.
"We told the kids we'd tell them who actually won, who will be the next president," said Mundinger.
Instead the morning announcements are merely updates on the undecided outcome.
"They are seeing history in the making," Mundinger said.
"It's a mess," fourth grader Isaac Twombly said of the recount process.
Twombly helped his peers with the mock election. He learned about what goes on at a polling site, and how to explain ballots to confused voters. After the ballots were handed in, fourth grader Cassidy Burkhart counted the ballots.
"It was pretty fun to have the students vote, count and see who wins," said Burkhart, adding the BES vote went much smoother than the national vote.
Even though their vote didn't count towards the national election, the experience of voting was worthwhile.
"I understand the voting process now," said fifth grader Evan Wilson. "I went into the booth with my dad. I got to see what a real voting slip looked like."
Wilson added that the official ballot looked a lot like a test. His classmates agreed.
George W. Bush won the school's mock election with 184 votes. Al Gore came in second with 82 votes, followed by 18 votes for Ralph Nader. Candidates from the smaller parties such as the Constitution, Libertarian and Reform each received a handful of votes.
"It was fun to see the resemblance between the nation and our school," said Josh Beaulieu, BES fifth grader.
The mock election encourages students who are not of legal voting age to become involved, interested and introduced to the voting process. If Baldwin City's wellinformed elementary students are representatives of the nation's young people, the future of the United States looks pretty good.
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