EWSD Middle School Students Take Part in Mock Election
November 4, 2020
The EWSD Remote Academy Middle School held a mock presidential election as a part of their recent unit on voting rights and the election. Voting took place starting on October 30 and wrapping up on November 2, as students in the Remote Academy Middle School, Essex Middle School, and Albert D. Lawton took part.
During the week leading up to the election, students in the Remote Academy were able to speak with Lori Houghton, Vermont State Representative for Essex Junction, and John Sonnick, the Presiding Officer of Elections for the Town outside the Village over Zoom and ask questions on voting and elections.
“Because of the current situation (Covid-19), we are unable to have the election in person. Instead of paper ballots, we are using an online ballot,” explained Logan, a seventh-grader in the Remote Academy.
Eli, a sixth-grader in the Remote Academy, volunteered for the job of ballot designer as a part of his participation on the Mock Election Planning Committee. Eli worked with his humanities teacher, Alison Levy, to learn how to create a Google Form and reviewed an actual Vermont ballot to make sure the mock election ballot was as close as possible to the ballot that Vermonters see at the polls.
All students in the Remote Academy Middle School were given the opportunity to participate in the design of the mock election by taking a survey. Students were surveyed to determine who should be allowed to vote, when voting should happen, how voters should cast their ballots, and what should be on the ballot.
One of the decisions students had to make was whether to collect names and email addresses the way teachers do for assignments. Eli's position was, “One of the things about voting is that no one knows how you voted. So we shouldn't ask students for their information either."
The results for some survey questions were overwhelmingly in agreement, such as all voting should take place online without the option to drop off ballots at school due to the pandemic. There was less of a consensus around other topics though. Students debated adding the race to become Vermont’s next governor but ended up deciding that since that race was not a part of their studies, it didn’t make sense to include. Voters should be informed before they vote, students explained.
On the question of who should get to vote, some students suggested that eighth-graders know the most, so only they should vote, while others insisted that everyone in the Remote Academy, including all students and teachers, should be allowed to vote.
“It wouldn’t be fair otherwise,” the committee agreed. In the end, the Planning Committee decided by vote that all Remote Academy students, and their teachers, should be allowed to vote.
A total of 269 students participated, with the final results in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden by a tally of 208-61. The math worked out to be that 77.3% of students selected Biden, compared to 22.7% voting for President Donald Trump. These percentages were very close to how Chittenden County voted in the presidential election this year (76.2% Biden, 21.4% Trump) as well.