Students give nod to Penny

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2002

Three hundred and sixty-eight voters submitted their ballots yesterday at Ellis Middle School in a mock election as part of social studies class project, choosing Tim Penny as governor.

The sixth-graders were divided in groups and assigned to campaign for seven candidates running at the state

and county level.

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Student teacher Erica Stevens, who was in charge for the majority of the project provided the students with background research on each of the candidates.

As part of the project each group made a campaigning commercial for their candidate.

"We encouraged the students to pay attention to the actual commercials on TV," Stevens said, adding that students could only use positive comments about the candidates for their commercials.

Prior to voting students filled out a registration form and had their parents signed it. Once registered, the students viewed each others commercials and headed to the voting booths. They had to show their school ID's or have someone vouch for them at the check-in tables otherwise they could not vote.

"It's a great experience for the kids. It gives them an idea of what their parents do when they go to the polls. We try to make it as realistic as possible," said Phyllis Jorgensen a retired and former social studies teacher volunteering at the check-in tables.

Students waited in line for an empty booth with ballots in hand. The ballots were then placed on a sealed box, which were counted by the social studies teachers. Each student received a "I voted" sticker after submitting their ballots.

According to Michael Veldman, another social studies teacher, the mock elections give the students more of a connection to mom and dad at home because they can discussed and compared each other knowledge of the issues.

"It opens dialogue with the parents of what's going on in school," Veldman said.

Ryan Meyer one of the 6th graders said that what he had seen, read and heard would help him decide who he voted for.

"I think the kids enjoy it. It empowers them and its a hand-on experience," Stevens said.

Toni Howg, another sixth grader, said that the experience will help her for the time when she will be able to in a real election.

"I know I am gonna want to vote when I am older. I will know that I help picked the candidate I wanted, even if they don't win. And even if you don't care now, you'll have to care when you're older because you might end up being one of the government officials," Howg said.

This year mock elections were a little bit different, according to social studies teacher Cheryl Dunlap, because of the loss of Sen. Paul Wellstone.

"Most of them understand the rights and the responsibility of voting as citizens … we hope that we have planted a seed of interest in them and when it comes time for them to vote, that seed will be planted." Dunlap said.

The results for the top two recipients were as follows:

For U.S. senator: Norm Coleman 162, Walter Mondale 97; U.S. Rep. Dist. 1: Steve Andreasen 165, Gil Gutknecht 113; Austin Mayor:

Bonnie Rietz 215, Gary Hanson 90; County Sheriff: Terese Amazi 207, Todd Clennon 104; County Attorney:

Patrick A. Oman 172, Patrick Flanagan 132; State Senator Dist. 27: Dan Sparks 175, Grace Schwab 102; State Rep. Dist. 27B: Jeff Anderson 176, Jeanne Poppe 130; Governor and lieut. governor: Tim Penny and Martha Robertson 102, Tim Pawlenty and Carol Molnau 81, and Roger Moe and Julie Sabo 66.

Roxana Orellana can be reach at 434-2214 or bye e-mail at