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Mac High students interested in election

Nov 6, 2012


By Starla Pointer
Of the News-Register



Students in McMinnville High School’s U.S. government class aren’t yet old enough to vote, but they want to. They are keenly interested in and well informed about today’s election.

“I like to pay attention to what’s going on,” said Collette Hidden, a junior. “I will vote some day, and I have to know what’s going on before I do that. Everyone should.”

Besides, said classmate Miguel Santoyo, the voting outcome will have a direct impact on everyone, whether or not they can vote.

“Whoever wins, we’ll be stuck with for four years,” he said. “It’s going to affect how I pay for school and whether I can get a job after college.”

Their class, led by teacher Erin Brisbin, has been studying the Constitution, the election process and the Electoral College. They’ve watched part of the presidential debates in class — and many students said they watched them all on their own — and examined the various candidates’ positions and party platforms.

In a mock election Monday, the 31 students in the class used an electronic voting system to anonymously cast ballots.

If it had been a real election, Democrat Barack Obama would have been re-elected with 59 percent of the vote, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney received 31 percent. Six percent of the students voted for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party, and 4 percent voted for other minor party candidates.

The candidate winningin Oregon will receive all seven of the state’s electoral votes. Each state has as many electoral votes as it does members of Congress — two for its senators, plus as many as its number of representatives.

All but two states, Nebraska and Maine, award all their electoral votes to the state winner of the popular vote. In other words, if 59 percent of Oregon’s voters favor Obama, he will receive all seven electoral votes; if he wins by only one vote in the state, he’ll still receive all seven. If the latter happened in Maine, that state’s four votes would be split between the candidates.

Nationwide, there are 538 electoral votes. To win the presidency, a candidate needs a majority, or at least 270 electoral votes.

After studying the electoral college process, most of the U.S. government students agree with the writers of the Constitution: They would keep it.

“It’s fair to some extent,” said Julia Jacobucci, a junior. Cody Bodkin, a senior, said the process works, but he would like to see it revised somewhat to be more reflective of popular vote percentages.

Cody, Julia and the other students said they’ve kept themselves informed about this election, but there are still things they’d like to know about the candidates.

It was frustrating when the presidential candidates didn’t stay on topic during the debates, Miguel said. He was especially disappointed when they didn’t really answer the question from a college student, who asked about job prospects.

Collette said she also was disappointed by the debates.

“Equal marriage rights are an important issue for me, and I haven’t heard the candidates say much about that,” she said. “In the debates it was more about Iran and Iraq.”

Still, watching the debates was interesting, students said. Julia paid attention to Obama and Romney’s body language and their reactions to each other.

Olivia Williams said she was listening for their responses related to controversial topics, such as abortion and same sex marriage. Although the candidates haven’t said as much about those issues as she would like, she said, she’s been able to decide who she favors.

In addition to watching the debates and reading, Kayla Bishop said she has been discussing the election with her parents. Her mother is good at explaining the issues without taking sides, she said.

A junior, Kayla has been following politics since she was a child — her grandfather sparked that interest, she said. She hopes to have a chance to vote for a female president someday.

She also would like to see a big change on the ballots. She would like voters to have room to write down why they chose the way they did.

Knowing why people voted for you, or for someone else, would help candidates understand what the country really wants and needs, she said.

Cody said he’d be fine with that. And he doesn’t care about the gender or ethnicity of the candidates, either.

“I have no problem with whoever is running, as long as they have a plan,” Cody said, “and as long as they’re willing to go forward and really fix what’s broken.”

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