With no previous experience, going into election polls for first-time voters may seem daunting.
Flathead High School social studies teachers gave students a chance to practice the democratic exercise by voting in a schoolwide mock election Wednesday.
This is the third mock election held at the school, and outcomes usually reflect how the vote goes in Flathead County, according to social studies teacher Bruce Guthrie.
“I think it’s important for the students to see what a polling place looks like and to understand how important it is to be prepared to go in to vote,” Guthrie said. “For the students that aren’t prepared, this gives them a low-stakes experience for what it feels like not to be prepared, and maybe when the time comes for them to vote they may take a different approach.”
Students went through the motions of a real election: signing their names, waiting for a booth to open and receiving an “I voted” sticker after casting a computerized ballot. Students eligible to vote in the actual election were also given the opportunity to register.
Students went Republican in a big way, favoring GOP candidates in every race
With 834 students (about 58 percent of the school) voting, the youth vote favored Mitt Romney for president by a 62 percent to 33 percent margin over President Barack Obama.
Students similarly picked Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor and superintendent of public instruction.
Social Studies Department Chairman Sean O’Donnell said he hopes that by going through the mock elections, students will vote when they are eligible.
“There’s information out there that if kids vote in their first election they’ll continue to be voters,” O’Donnell said.
Included on the ballot were the five proposed ballot issues facing Montana voters this election. Teachers spent time discussing pros and cons of the initiatives.
“We decided to put the initiatives on this ballot even though some students might find them confusing — a lot of citizens might find them confusing — good citizenship requires spending some time with that voter information pamphlet and be as informed as possible and we tried to model that for our students,” Guthrie said.
Glacier High School students held their mock election on Thursday. Results of that vote are not available yet.
Flathead High School voting
Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan (GOP), 62 percent
Barack Obama-Joe Biden (Dem), 33 percent
Gary Johnson-Jim Grey (Lib), 5 percent
Dennis Rehberg (GOP), 45 percent
Jon Tester (Dem), 39 percent
Dan Cox (Lib), 16 percent
Steve Daines (GOP), 50 percent
Kim Gillan (Dem), 30 percent
David Kaiser (Lib), 20 percent
Rick Hill-Jon Sonju (GOP), 50 percent
Steve Bullock-John Walsh (Dem), 43 percent
Ron Vandevender-Marc Mulcahy (Lib), 7 percent
Secretary of State
Brad Johnson (GOP), 52 percent
Linda McCulloch (Dem), 38 percent
Roger Roots (Lib), 10 percent
Derek Skees (GOP), 61 percent
Monica Lindeen (Dem), 39 percent
Tim Fox (GOP), 66 percent
Pam Bucy (Dem), 34 percent
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Sandy Welch (GOP), 67 percent
Denise Juneau (Dem), 34 percent
LR-120: Requiring parental notification prior to abortion for a minor.
For: 56 percent
Against: 44 percent
LR-121: All applicants for state services have to prove U.S. citizenship
For: 78 percent
Against: 22 percent
LR-122: Stopping state or federal government from requiring the purchase of health insurance
For: 56 percent
Against: 45 percent
IR-124: Repeal the existing medical marijuana law and replace it with a new medical marijuana program with tighter regulations, lower volume and no profits for growers.
For: 60 percent
Against: 40 percent
I-166: Requires Montana elected and appointed officials to carry out a policy that corporations are not human beings and do not have constitutional rights.
For: 57 percent
Against: 45 percent