by Phil Keren | Editor

Cuyahoga Falls -- A day before their parents went to the polls, students at Richardson Elementary School had a chance to experience the voting process.

The school hosted a mock election in its library Nov. 5, complete with a sign-in table, voting booths, a ballot box and "I Voted" stickers.

Students signed their name at one table, then traveled to a second table to get a ballot, walked into a booth with a curtain to mark their ballot, dropped their paper into a box and then received an "I Voted" sticker.

"They are studying the presidential election process and all that entails," said Alison Johnston an attendant at Richardson who was helping supervise the election process.

Students at all grade levels had a chance to participate; fifth-grade students served as poll workers.

Kindergartners, along with first and second-graders, received a ballot listing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney with an accompanying photo of each candidate. Meanwhile, the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders received "an authentic-looking presidential ballot," said Cheryl Bruce, a fourth-grade social studies teacher at Richardson. "We read the directions together and discussed that there are more candidates from which to choose other than the Republican and Democratic parties."

President Barack Obama was the winner in the mock election with 239 votes. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had 125 votes, while Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Stewart Alexander of the Socialist Party each received two votes.

Madelyn Rupert, a first-grader, said she enjoyed voting "because I got to vote for my favorite president." She expects to participate in voting when she gets older.

First-graders Madison Nipper and Emma Brand, also said they enjoyed voting and expect to cast ballots when they are old enough to take part in the democratic process.

Alexander Golden, also a first-grader, said it was his "first time ever voting. It was fun."

After her students cast their votes, Bruce noted the children's parents would be voting for many candidates and issues the next day.

Bruce also told her students "your parents' vote doesn't really elect the president. We have something called the Electoral College ... your parents kind of vote for the president, but not really. And it's a weird thing that we have here."

Bruce later told the Falls News-Press she felt it was "important for my fourth-graders to know about the Electoral College. We did a follow up discussion [Nov. 7] looking at the numbers of popular votes and electoral votes and comparing the results."

Christine Bedell, a third-grade social studies teacher, said the students had to register to vote in advance.

She noted that the purpose of the mock election was focused on "the idea of being a good citizen and voting" rather than examining the candidates' views.


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