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Students go for Gore

By Juliet Leyba Daily Planet Staff
Friday November 03, 2000

It’s official, Berkeley High School students want Al Gore to be the next president of the United States.  

They also want to re-elect Dianne Feinstein, require probation and drug treatment for nonviolent offenders instead of jail time, throw the school voucher idea in the circular file and authorize bonds for school repair, construction or replacement with a 55 percent local vote. 

Now all they have to do is wait until they turn 18. 

Not so, says Helene Lecar, League of Women Voters educational liaison. “These votes may have an indirect impact on election day because this movement is national.” 

Lecar said Berkeley isn’t the only High School conducting a mock election. It’s happening nationwide as part of a campaign headed by the University of Arizona that aims to re-engage youth in the political process.  

The university compiled all the results and they were aired on CNN Thursday evening. 

“This year we’re going full boar ahead. We want the nation to know who these young people support and who knows . . . maybe they’ll think twice on election day,” Lecar said. 

In addition to voting for President, U.S. Senator and propositions 36, 38 and 39 the mock ballot also included a survey on national issues. 

The results:  

• Students feel the most important issue facing America is education and they think retaining the current educational system and increasing federal funding to schools is the best way to tackle the problem. 

• They feel the best change to make in the criminal justice system is to increase funding for prevention efforts. 

• As for restoring faith in government and in elected officials they voted to shorten the campaigns and use only public money to fund them. 

The results of the nationwide presidential mock election were strikingly different.  

According to the CNN tabulation at press time, students nationwide voted Republican George W. Bush into the white house.  

According to Michele Hanssen, faculty coordinator for student activities, they tried to mimic the real world voting process as much as possible. Students were required to register to vote by a specific date and make it to the polls on election day to cast their vote. 

“We don’t want to hold hands here, we want to teach students to do for themselves.”  

Many of the students at the voting polls credited the mock election process for teaching them about the political process and how to study the issues and vote. 

“It felt really good to vote,” sophomore Erik Frank said. “The results might actually effect the outcome and now I know what to do when I turn 18.” 

Freshman Francie Jones, 14, said that the election not only got her interested in the election process and also helped demystify the voting process. 

“It made it less scary for me. I’m glad I had the opportunity. Now when I turn 18 it won’t be such a big deal.” 

The polls, which were open from 8 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., were manned by volunteers from the League of Women Voters who had lists of all registered voters. 

Anyone who wasn’t on the list was turned away and according to volunteer, Jim Lindsay, there were “hundreds of them.” 

“This is the like the real world. If you don’t register, you can’t vote.”