A fun right to vote

Kids line up to vote at the voting booth at Charlotte Christian School.

The votes are in at Charlotte Christian School. And it’s Romney who’s taken the majority.

It’s been a tight race for President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney, and it’s still unclear who will be the country’s next president.

But either way, students at Charlotte Christian are informed and know what they want.

Upper school history department chair Steve Hoff understands the importance of government and politics and the need to be informed. That’s why he came up with the idea to host a school-wide mock election, where nearly 200 faculty and staff members and 1,000 students junior-kindergarten through 12th grade registered and voted at the school Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Hoff got the idea for a mock election from a similar 2000 election event at his previous school in California.

“I just decided it was such an awesome event there and we had to do it again,” he said.

Although this is the school’s first mock election, Hoff said he already has plans to continue the event every presidential election year, since the vote was only for the presidential election, highlighting Obama, Romney and libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

Hoff and his American Government class, Honors American Government class and A.P U.S. Government and Politics class have been preparing for the mock election since the start of the school year, researching how the voting process works, big issues and candidate positions and plans. They assigned duties and jobs, such as election officials, registration officials and even added some theatrics – several students played the role of the candidates themselves.

“It’s as festive as we can make it, but most importantly, we want to give the kids a real sense of what it means to vote and we hope that translates to when they are 18,” Hoff said. “We want it to be fun, so part of this is to give them the enthusiasm… and it’s their responsibility.”

Andy Ferguson, a senior at the school, played a large role in the planning and preparation of the event, Hoff said. Ferguson helped inform the students beforehand by making balanced and unbiased voting brochures — one for junior-kindergarten through seventh-grade students and one for eighth- through 12th-grade students.

“It’s important because it’s curving voter apathy at a young age,” Andy said, “and politics is important – we need to know what’s going on. It’s a blessing so we should take advantage of it.”

For Andy, the most exciting part of the mock election was the research he was able to do, visiting party headquarters throughout Charlotte to gather campaign signs and support for the mock election event.

“I definitely feel more informed and I was surprised a couple of times with my findings on certain issues,” he said. He hopes to study business and political science in college next year.

Presidential debates and conversations have been floating throughout Charlotte Christian classrooms, encouraging students to be engaged. For eighth-grader Elizabeth Gowan, she said she remembers participating in Kids Voting four years ago as a fourth-grader and is excited to see students of all ages participate in voting since voting at a young age has helped keep her engaged.

“If kids don’t realize the weight of their voice, we might not have good voter turnouts down the road,” she said. “I think it’s important to use our privilege to vote and it’s cool to see classmates form different opinions.”

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