With perhaps record voter turnout predicted, in what has been described as one of the most contested and unprecedented elections in modern history students at Smith-Cotton High School will have an opportunity to cast their ballots on Tuesday in a mock election.
Although the student votes will have no bearing on the outcome of any of the races it is providing students an opportunity to experience a real life voting situation.
“We wanted to give the students the opportunity to take part in the voting process and make it as close to what they will do when they become active voters in the future,” S-C Assistant Principal Joe Doyle said. “Principal (Wade) Norton came to me and asked me to organize a mock election and so we are doing everything possible to help them realize the importance of carrying out their civic responsibility to vote.
“The students will cast their ballots on Nov. 8 using a computer system that is very similar to what is used in Pettis County,” Doyle added. “Pettis County Clerk, Nick La Strada, sent us an actual sample ballot and from there we contacted Kids Vote USA who customized the ballot for us.”
Students at S-C will be given the opportunity to vote for the President and Vice President as well as all federal, state and local candidates.
In addition the students will also have the opportunity to vote on the amendments and propositions facing voters state wide.
“When I contacted Kids Vote I told them what we wanted and what we were looking for in the process of having the students vote,” Doyle said. “One of the first things we wanted to do is to have the students “register” to vote.”
From Oct. 31 to Nov. 7 students were given that opportunity.
More than 700 students chose to do so as of Sunday.
“Two of our history instructors, Ashley Young and Steven Vandevender became really involved in the project and they chose student workers who “registered” the students during the lunch shifts,” Doyle said. “Each student who registered was given a specific student ID number and they will have to bring their voter card with that number on it when the vote Tuesday.
“I wanted to limit my role in what I did with this and the kids and Mr. Young and Mr. Vandevender really have done a tremendous amount of work on this too,” Doyle added. “One of the things they did was to create a series of videos that explained the process of “registering” and “voting” and the ballot measures the students will be voting on.”
The series of videos, produced with the help of Bryant Lazenby and his students, were mini lessons and were shown during the student’s morning seminar throughout the last week.
“We wanted to step it up and try to help others understand the importance of the issues,” Vandevender said. “We wanted the videos to be simple and to the point.
“Probably one of the biggest challenges we faced was making sure the information and the videos were non-partisan,” he added. “We couldn’t take sides.”
Macey Hoover, a junior at Smith-Cotton was chosen to help “register” students and will be “working the polls” on Election Day.
“I’ve been interested in elections and politics since I was in the sixth or seventh grade,” Hoover said. “My father and I talk about it all the time and what the importance of voting is.
“It’s a huge deal to have the opportunity to elect someone who can make a difference in the future of our country and the world,” she added.
Hoover commented that it is important to her when choosing a candidate, to vote for those individuals who will best represent her and her family’s concerns.
“It seems that many of the candidates are simply bashing each other and aren’t really focusing on the issues,” Hoover said. “I want them to focus on and tell me what their full potential is.
“Explain what you will do, and not what the other won’t do,” she added.
Although the mock election has not occurred, Doyle is pleased with the efforts of the students so far.
“Hopefully the students will understand that it’s their civic responsibility and not a requirement to vote,” Doyle said. “We’re not going to force anyone to vote but hopefully they will understand that their vote does matter.
“Just like the national election we won’t be able to announce the results until after all the polls have closed in the United States which is a requirement of Kid’s Vote,” he added. “That’s part of the process and we hope with the entire project our students understand the importance and relevance of what they are doing.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.