Although five of her students are old enough to vote on Nov. 6, everyone in Mrs. Brandi Cochran-Mitchell’s third-block government class received the opportunity to put their citizenship to work on Oct. 24 in a mock election.
Through a program called Youth Leadership Initiative offered by the University of Virginia, students throughout the nation have the chance to vote for candidates in a variety of races. In Mrs. Cochran-Mitchell’s class, Carroll students voted for their choices in the presidential, U.S. Senate and District 9 House of Representatives races.
“I think this is the first time we’ve had a mock presidential election, but they have done mock Gubernatorial elections and we’ve done one for Congress,” she said. “It’s a free program and you can customize your own elections for local races such as school board and mayor.”
Students in Shawn Montgomery’s government classes also participated in mock elections. Prior to voting, students in Cochran-Mitchell’s class used a scoring system to rate candidates on a variety of aspects and issues.
“Now we are going to vote,” she told the class. “It is voluntary, just like a real election. You don’t have to vote, but you should. This program is done through UVa and nationwide, so you will have a chance to see how people in your age group voted.”
Prior to voting, students were asked if they considered themselves to be a democrat, republican, independent or other party. The results were surprising with 13 students claiming to be independent, 10 republican, four democrats and one libertarian.
Senior Tyler Campbell was one of the four democrats. He said he would be casting a mock vote for Barack Obama for president.
“He’s not the best choice, but for the candidates we have, he is the best there is,” said Campbell.
Campbell said he’s watched the presidential debates mostly on his own time, although Mitchell-Cochran’s class watched most of the second debate in class together. He said he formed his political opinions through his own research from a variety of sources.
“I’ve tried to stay away from big-name news organizations like NBC and CBS because more times than not they are pretty biased,” Campbell said.
Senior Gage Hansen considers himself to be a republican and said he would vote that way most times. He planned to cast a vote for Mitt Romney in the mock presidential election.
“Mitt keeps talking about how much he will support small business and I’ve always wanted to have my own business,” Hansen said. “I just favor Romney more than Obama.”
Hansen said he doesn’t watch much television, but has seen many political ads in the mail this campaign period. He said he doesn’t pay much attention to political posts on facebook, either.
“I just listen to what people have to say about it and more often than not I agree with what people say about Romney,” Hansen said.
Even up until time to cast his vote in the mock election, senior Luke Luciano said he still hadn’t decided which candidate he’d vote for in the presidential race.
“I will flip a coin in a minute,” Luciano said. “Both of them have good ideas, I just haven’t paid a lot of attention. Neither has done anything to stand out in my mind. I did notice Romney trying to agree with what people wanted instead of sticking to his own plans. He seemed to flip back and forth.”
Carroll County Registrar Kimberly Cloud recently visited Carroll County High School to register students to vote who will turn 18 by Nov. 6. She was happy with the turnout, said CCHS Assistant Principal Adam Joyce. But Joyce did have stern words of advice for students in Mrs. Cochran-Mitchell’s class after he learned that of the five students who were 18 in the class, only one was actually registered to vote.
“Think about the servicemen and women who fought and died so you can vote for your own government,” Joyce said. “Even if you aren’t old enough to vote in this election, you can vote in municipal elections in May and state elections next fall. I would strongly encourage you to do so.”