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Thu., Oct. 8
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Potsdam High School students participate in mock election


POTSDAM - It’s not Election Day yet, but Potsdam High School students had an opportunity to cast their ballots in the presidential, Senate and House of Representatives races Wednesday as part of the nationwide National Student Mock Election effort.

Computers in the high school library were set up so that students could come in as classes, take their turns at the computers, enter a ballot code and cast their votes - a process that, once they were logged in, took only seconds.

As they voted, election monitors like students Tom Hobbs and Ryan McDonald stood by to make sure they hadn’t voted more than once.

“We just come down here and watch the kids. They’re basically coming down and just voting,” Mr. McDonald said.

The two students had already cast their ballots, with both of them voting for Republican Mitt Romney over Democrat Barack Obama in the presidential race.

“I think he has a better plan,” Mr. Hobbs said.

“I don’t like how Obama is spending money,” Mr. McDonald added.

Potsdam’s students were taking part in the My Voice National Student Mock Election, which was co-founded by Edward Stanley and Gloria Kirshner in 1980 as the National Student/Parent Mock Election. It has been active for more than 30 years and 18 elections and bills itself as the world’s largest national mock election, helping more than 50 million student learn about the electoral process.

“It’s nationwide. They run it every year. This year it was Oct. 24 until tomorrow (Nov. 1),” Potsdam social studies teacher Joachim Van Ells said as some of his students cast their ballots at the library computers.

Teachers register their students, create a student ballot and, once they have the ballot code, the students can cast their vote online. The results of the local student voting were originally scheduled to be ready at the end of the day Wednesday, but those were delayed because of Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Van Ells said the voting time was extended nationwide until 8 p.m. Friday, and results would be available after that.

“It’ll be interesting. The last time we followed the national trend for Obama,” he said. “The national results will be released on Election Day.”

Mr. Van Ells said that, because of the elections, they reversed some of the chapters they were studying in the Civics and Government classes. The elections are normally a topic for the end of the year, he said.

“They’ve done projects on political parties and interest groups,” as well as what they would do if they were a candidate for office, he said.

The school also had a shared arrangement with the county’s Board of Elections for a voter registration drive of 17- and 18-year-old students. While the 18-year-olds would be eligible to vote this year, the registrations for the 17-year-old students would be held until next year’s elections, he said.

More information on the National Student Mock Election is available at

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