Victor Skinner, EAGNews.org
WILLMAR, Minn. – Willmar Senior High School held a mock election as part of Minnesota’s statewide effort to engage students in the democratic process, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came out on top.
A total of 514 Willmar students cast ballots during their lunch breaks Tuesday and 207 of them voted for Trump, while 179 cast ballots for Clinton. Other top vote getters included Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson with 41 votes and Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Dan Vacek with 17 votes. The remainder went to write-in candidates and others that registered in single digits.
The project is part of a mock statewide election for high school students at 282 Minnesota high schools, the final results of which are slated to be released Nov. 1, the West Central Tribune reports.
The idea is to mimic polling stations used by adult voters to prepare students for voting when they’re of legal age. The event at Willmar was put on by the school’s Key Club, which is sponsored by the town’s Kiwanis organization.
“I think everybody should get the chance to vote,” said sophomore MaKenna Taylor after casting her ballot. “Kids pay attention too.”
Sophomore Anna Rice believes the practice voting also lets “adults know what kids think.”
“I think it’s good to get people involved in this sort of thing,” said Key Club Vice President Carly Hulstein, who is too young to vote officially this year but helped to organize Tuesday’s mock election. “We are more informed than people think.”
Principal Paul Schmitz told the Tribune the mock election is “giving (students) exposure to our democracy” and hopes to expand the effort to a full ballot mock election in 2020. The 2016 mock election included only presidential candidates.
Several Kiwanis volunteers helped with this year’s mock election, as did Key Club advisor and school social worker Sheri Pederson.
Much like the real deal, students were checked in on a master list and were given a receipt they exchanged for a ballot before heading into a partitioned voting booth in a hallway between the cafeteria and gymnasium. Afterwards, they stuffed their ballots into a box and received a red and white “I Voted” sticker, officials said.
Key Club President Grace Krall told the news site the election worked well and students learned a lot about how the voting process works.
“I think it’s a cool way to know how it’s done,” she said.