Had Ted Cruz checked with Marion Elementary School students he might have reconsidered dropping out of the presidential race Tuesday.
Winning in Thursday’s landslide mock vote, America’s 45th president would be Ted Cruz, if MES students were old enough for their votes to count.
A fourth-grade girl explained why she gave Cruz her vote.
“He’s lowering taxes and he’s a Republican and I’m a Republican,” she said. “I know I am a Republican because I asked my parents, and I asked who they are voting for.”
Of the 235 K-5 students who voted, she said Cruz won with 90 votes, Hillary Clinton was second at 46, John Kasich got 42, Donald Trump had 37, Bernie Sanders had 18, and MES fourth grade student Gavin Wasmuth earned two write-in votes.
Fifth-graders staged the school-wide mock election as part of a lesson on the three parts of government.
Fifth-grade teachers Tina Hague and Sarah Tolessa organized the mock election by randomly assigning presidential candidates to students.
Students then researched their backgrounds and platforms and incorporated what they learned into campaign posters that were displayed throughout the school.
“We let the research be their own, and as teachers we don’t insert our own opinions of each candidate,” Tolessa said.
Hague said they tried to be careful about what topics were allowed on campaign posters.
“Some kids had strong opinions,” she said.
Fifth-graders also created ballots with candidates’ pictures and names, ballot boxes, candidate flyers, and “I voted” stickers.
The experience made two fifth-grade boys Brayden Hulett and Caulin James question the voting process.
“We want to know how come kids can’t vote,” Caulin said.
“Kids today have more informed opinions because of our phones and technology,” Brayden said.
Sadie Lange, a classmate who was assigned to research Cruz, said the experience was “fun at school” because she discovered amusing factoids about her candidate.
“He has two daughters and his favorite ‘My Little Pony’ character is Applejack, and his favorite movie is ‘The Princess Bride,’” Sadie said. “I saw it in a CNN report online.”
However, her opinion of the real election process was somewhat different.
“People just argue,” Sadie said. “I have no interest in the news. I just watch Netflix.”
Through research, another classmate, Abby Wesner, said she learned Bernie Sanders was a “socialist,” but said she wasn’t entirely sure what that meant.
“He wants to put 30 million people to work,” Abby said. “He also wants health care for everyone and women to be paid the same as men. I guess that makes me feel good.”
During the mock election, random samples of students were asked which candidate they voted for and why. Their names were not recorded in order to protect their privacy.
Some students who voted for Cruz said they chose him because he believes in religious freedom, lowering taxes, and “has more of a point of view on war because he was in the Navy.”
Others voted for him because “he wants to do good stuff for the world,” and “is not going to build a wall between American and Mexico.”
“I feel that he is very trustworthy,” a fifth grade girl said. Another fifth-grade girl wasn’t exactly sure why she voted for him, but said, “I just don’t want Trump.”
A fourth-grade boy who liked Cruz’s tax policies said, “Ted Cruz is better than the others, and I think Hillary Clinton was going to start slavery.”
Several first- and second-grade students voted for Cruz with no apparent reason, however, a second-grade boy said, “I voted for Ted Cruz because I don’t like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, or Bernie Sanders.”
A fifth grade boy voted for Cruz because of his stance on firearms.
“He doesn’t want to get rid of guns,” he said. “How are people supposed to protect themselves if an intruder or gangs come by?”
Several kindergartens voted for Clinton because “she is a girl.” A second grade girl who voted for Clinton said, “She was the only girl and I believe in girls.” A kindergarten boy who also voted for Clinton said, “She looks nice.”
A third grade girl who voted for Kasich liked his stance on education.
“He said something that kids need a better education or something,” the girl said. “They need to learn, and some math skills help in the real world.”
A first-grade boy voted for Kasich because he liked how Kasich looks. A fourth-grade girl who couldn’t remember who she voted for said, “I think…I forgot…oh wait, his last name starts with a ‘K’ and I voted for him because I looked at a poster, and he thinks education is good for kids.”
One first-grade boy had no reason for voting for Trump, but a fourth-grade boy had a very clear reason for choosing Trump.
“He’s one of the only presidential candidates that don’t want to lower taxes,” the boy said. “America needs money right now. He also has a lot of money, so if he decided to contribute that money to America that would be good.”
A kindergarten boy who voted for Sanders said, “I just kinda wanted to vote for him.”
A fifth-grade boy voted for Sanders because “he wants poor people to work and stuff, and he wants to help people who don’t have proper homes — he’ll pay for a little bit of it.”
A second-grade boy voted for Sanders because of the candidate’s last name.
“Bernie Sanders has the same last name as a real famous football player, Barry Sanders, and he [Barry Sanders] had a brother who died saving two teenage girls. That’s why I voted for him.”