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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Staff Writer
John McCain will be elected the 44th President of the United States and Sarah Palin will be the first female Vice President - that's if the students at Washington County High School have anything to say about it.
The student body took part in a mock election on Oct. 22, casting votes for President/Vice-President, along with Kentucky U.S. Senator and Representative. Hot topic issues were also a part of the ballot, with students casting a vote for the issue they feel is most important to America today.
The McCain/Palin Republican ticket came out on top with 272 votes compared to 199 votes cast for Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The Independent ticket of Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez finished third with 30 votes, while four votes were cast for Chuck Baldwin and Robert E. Thornsberry of the Constitution Party and two votes for the Libertarian Party team of Bob Barr and Wayne A. Root.
“The students are very cognizant of what is going on,” said Matthew Garrett, head of the social studies department at WCHS. “They’re aware of the issues. Regardless of how the election turns out, it’s going to make history. You’re either going to see John McCain become the oldest elected President along with the first female Vice President, or you’re going to see the first African-American elected President in Barack Obama. They’re witnessing history and they know that.”
Tenth-grader Moriah Hourigan from Springfield feels the upcoming election will be close. The big issues for her are the war in Iraq and the failing U.S. economy.
"It's going to be a big change for the next President," said Hourigan. "And with our economy and rising prices around the United States, especially oil and gas, it's going to be tough. It's going to be interesting to see what happens."
Michelle Hayden, also a tenth-grader from Springfield, is hoping Barack Obama wins the election. She believes Obama is more in touch with the middle class and feels that Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a poor role model.
"McCain is like another Bush," Hayden said. "Everything will stay the same. Sarah Palin had a pregnant teenage daughter, so I think she's a poor role model."
The mock election is intended to give the students a sense of civic pride and prepare them for the time when they can go to the polls and let their voice be heard. Students are also learning how the democracy process works and why it is important.
"Students need to know the difference between this nation and other nations around the world that don't have the privileges that we do," said WCHS world history teacher Tom Ellis.
Ellis said he and other teachers at the school help register students who are 18 years of age, or 17 years old who will be eligible to vote in upcoming elections. Even freshmen and sophomores are showing interest in the election process and voicing their concerns.
In state races, Democrat Bruce Lunsford was elected U.S. Senator by the students with 282 votes, compared to 221 votes for Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell. Democrat David Boswell received 290 votes for U.S. Representative from District 2, beating out Republican S. Brett Guthrie who received 202 votes.
Of the hot topics on the ballot, 67.4 percent of the students overwhelmingly chose the economy as the issue most important in the U.S. with 279 votes cast. Finishing second with 58 votes was the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by health care and care quality with 28 votes and 21 votes for the energy crisis. Various other issues received a total of 28 votes.
The election was sponsored by the Kentucky Secretary of State's office. Nearly 50,000 students from across the Commonwealth took part in 2004 and they hope to beat that total this year. More information and results from participating schools can be found online at http://www.sos.ky.gov/secdesk/initiatives/civics/mockelection/.