It may be another decade before Gabe Arguello's vote will actually count, but that did not stop the eight year old from going to the polls.
The second grader took part in a mock election held at Gwin Oaks Elementary School in Lawrenceville Tuesday. He and other students across the country are voting in the National Student Mock Election.
“We’re always teaching good citizenship here,” said Gwin Oaks’ Media Specialist Sharon Amolo. “Having them participate in this mock election actually shows good citizenship.”
Amolo coordinates the event every other year when there is either a presidential or a gubernatorial race.
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It is a very organized process. First, the children in grades two to five file in to the Media Center to cast their votes. They then need to “register” by handing the volunteers a slip of paper with their name, grade and other information. Next they will go to one of the computers, which have been set up as polling stations. There, they will select the button next to their candidate’s name. Pictures of three presidential candidates and their running mates are at each station to in case the students need a visual reminder.
While many adults will weigh a candidate’s stance on things like the economy and foreign policy before voting, children often have different ways of picking a president.
In our “exit poll,” Arguello said he picked Republican Mitt Romney. “I voted for him because he looked handsome,” said the student.
“I just chose him!” said classmate Michael Smith, 7, as to why he picked Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
During the entire month of October, special announcements were made to the Gwin Oaks students explaining more about the election and the candidates. Some of the children used that information to make their decision.
Second grader Taylor Pruitt, 7, said she voted for Democrat Barack Obama “because he had a ‘gooder’ speech.”
Third grader Will Morris also picked Obama. “I think he has better comments than Mitt Romney,” said the 8 year old.
Parent Burnicia Reid was helping out at the event. Her son is in kindergarten but is aware of the political process. “He’s seen us talking about the election and he’s decided on his own who he’s going to vote for,” said Reid.
Volunteer Jean Ferrara said the mock election is a great lesson for the students. “It’s a wonderful thing to help teach kids how important it is to vote,” said the retiree. “It let’s them know how important it is to vote when they come of age.”
The children understood how vital it is to vote and plan to do so when they turn 18. Most of their parents had already voted and many of the students were able to go to the polling place with them. Arguello said his mother and father had not yet cast their ballots. “I’m gonna make sure they get out and vote,” he said enthusiastically.
After all the votes were tabulated, President Obama won by a landslide at Gwin Oaks. He finished with 67.7% or 423 votes. Governor Romney came in second with 30.1% or 188 votes. In third place was Governor Johnson with 2.2% or 14 votes.
Nationwide voting in the mock election was initially slated to end on November 1st. However, due to a number of schools being closed after Hurricane Sandy, voting will continue through Election Day, November 6th.