East Side students: Bush wins mock election

Photo By Rick Harris
Students at East Side Elementary School vote for their favorite presidential candidate during a mock election held Wednesday. The majority support incumbent George W. Bush.

By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  They are not old enough to vote - yet. Some of them might not be old enough to cross the street alone, but students at East Side Elementary School do have opinions on the upcoming presidential election.
  The entire student body participated in a mock election on Wednesday organized by teacher Tammy Peters and her fifth grade class.
  Peters said, "I think the students leamed a lot from pre-registration, all the way to counting the votes and tallying the winner. They learned the whole process from beginning to end - in a much simpler format."
  Pre-election polls predict a close race between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, but if the mock election results from East Side students were any indication, Bush would win by a landslide. The incumbent received 215 votes from Kindergarten to fifth grade students, while Kerry received 68 votes.
  "The fifth graders worked it. They pre-registered every voter and then as the voters came through the line they checked their names off and handed them a ballot. Then we counted the ballots and recounted the ballots. The results were George Bush, 215, and John Kerry, 68.
  "The main thing that we tried to teach them was to respect each other's choices and other people's opinions and just to tolerate differences in people's opinions," Peters said.
  The students campaigned for their candidate by bringing in signs, worth extra credit in Social Studies. Creativity flowed on some signs: "Bush is Scary--Vote for Kerry" and "Kerry Flip-Flops More Than my Sandals."
  Parents were also encouraged to talk with their children about their choice of candidate and discuss their decision for supporting this candidate. "See who they are voting for and see if those are your same values and reasons for choosing that candidate," Peters told the students.
  Assistants, bus drivers, cooks, maintenance workers and even the principal voted in the booth, made from a filing cabinet box covered by red, white, and, blue paper. "The principal voted. He was one of the first people to vote and he was one of the ones who had a tough time fitting inside of the box," Peters said.
  Apparently all elections have a few votes that can't be counted. Peters said four votes were not tallied because one student marked both candidates and three students left the ballots blank. Maybe they were voting independent, but, whatever the reason, one is never too young to start teaching America's youth the importance of voting.