CHS election is hands-on way for students to learn voting process
As the polls closed at Centre High School on Friday, it ushered the end of one of the closest races in CHS fictional election history.
“Usually I can pick the winner,” history and social studies teacher Greg Wyatt said. “This year is going to be interesting.”
The parties came out of the junior class. The class was evenly divided, six class members in four groups — the Aviators, Dogg Pound, Ninja Squirrels, and Pain Train.
“I’ve had people cross party lines before,” Wyatt said.
There are stakes to the election. The winning party does not have to take the upcoming history test. Many of the students have been putting much of their effort into their campaigns.
“It’s really bad because I have not been paying attention,” Aviator presidential candidate Anna Weber said.
The new wrinkle in the election process was that the elementary school was included in the vote. It used to be for the middle school and high school, but with the elementary school in the same building, they were included. The only difference between the school level was that elementary students voted in their own class rooms while middle school and high school students used voting booths, complete with a ballot box left over from Lost Springs in the commons during their free time.
Pain Train vice presidential candidate Beka Basore said the inclusion of the elementary school made candidates rely on different tactics to gain votes. Dogg Pound president Tom Oborney said he thought elementary school students were going to be persuaded by free candy and campaign posters.
For older voters, the candidates called on more traditional campaigning methods. Each party created a campaign advertisement and spoke to the classes at an assembly Thursday.
“The campaign advertisement videos were really fun to make,” Basore said.
They picked out the issues they would speak on at assembly, which included national, regional, and state concerns, but also school issues.
“We talked about passing period times, different food in the cafeteria, we even said we would buy the school a new track,” Weber said. “We lied a lot. It’s like, if you had the power, to do this stuff, what would you do.”
Wyatt’s intention was to keep the process as realistic as possible. There was both a popular and electoral vote, with classes assigned electoral votes for every five students. The senior class this year was the smallest class.
“The biggest thing is an electoral college vote is different than a popular vote,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt said he had students study cases from 2000 and 1824 where the losing candidates won the popular vote.
After voting was counted, Wyatt tabled up how certain parties did with certain demographics — if one party did exceptionally well with the elementary school level for instance. He also has 14 absentee ballots, the students who are attending National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. They only were able to see the campaign advertisement videos before making their decision.
Voter apathy is also a concern. Just as in the real election, Centre students did not have to vote.
“Last year we had 18 people not vote,” Wyatt said. “If you would have had five out of that 18 would have voted for you, would it have made a difference? It teaches them how that can change an election.”
Carrie Carlson, the presidential candidate for Pain Train, said the election was definitely a better way to learn about the political process than reading it out of a book.
“It’s been interesting,” Carlson said. “You’ve been listening to people since seventh grade.”
1. Ninja Squirrel Party — 78 votes
2. Pain Train Party — 57
3. Dogg Pound Party — 54
4. Aviator Party — 32
There were 221 votes of a possible 286 at the school building.