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Votes

Wonder Woman or Bugs Bunny?

Mock election teaches students about the voting process

Students at Wakefield High School voted to elect their favorite super heroes into office last Friday.

Representatives from the county's voter registration department brought two of its most recently designed voting machines, each one operated with a touch screen.

Students cast their ballots for president, for the county board and for the school board, deciding between candidates such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Cartoon characters like Wily Coyote and Bugs Bunny filled in for the names of county board members on the ballot.

The program is designed to help students understand the importance of voting, said Tim Dubois, the county's coordinator for the mock election.

"This is part of our push to get kids involved in government and teach them about how voting takes place," Dubois said. "It's important that, especially here, since they are so close to the age when they'll be voting, for them to really see how its done so it isn't something unfamiliar to them as adults."

COUNTY REPRESENTATIVES never counted the electronic ballots, but social studies teacher Tim Churchill, who also hosted a mock election in his class last year, said the exercise serves as a valuable lesson for his students.

"The kids were very involved," he said. "It was a little different last school year — better in some ways — because we got their attention on the fact that there's not just an election every four years," Churchill said. "It got them into talking about Congress and other aspects of our democracy."

Churchill said the election helped to stimulate political debate in the classroom surrounding the coming presidential election.

"We'll also be talking about the debate between the two candidates and what the students think about who made the better arguments," he said. "They have some really strong opinions in class and this is really a good way to get them thinking about government and being involved in politics."

SEAN CONNELL, 17, a Wakefield junior, said he missed the chance to register for the November election by only two weeks — because of his birthdate — and wishes he could vote this year.

"I think it's important that kids learn how to use this stuff, so that it's easy to understand and they can actually get out there and do it for themselves when they are older enough to vote," Connell said. "I missed the election by two weeks this year, and I'm a little [angry] about that because it's an important election."

Kamel Efrim, 17, cast his vote for Superman but the real lesson for him, he said, was on voter registration.

"It was good that we learned how to register," he said. "It's important for students to understand that because we are the next group of people who will vote. It might not be in this election, but some day we will need to know how that is done."

The county plans to hold another mock election at Gunston Middle School on Oct. 29, where the ballots are expected to be counted.