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Local schools hold mock elections for students

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:14 pm

With Election Day less than a week away, Brownsville school children have already spoken.

If the children had their way, the results of a local mock election show President Barack Obama and running mate Vice President Joe Biden would win re-election in a landslide over Republican challenger Mitt Romney and running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

In Kids Voting USA-Brownsville results announced after the mock-election polls closed at 4 p.m. Thursday, the Obama-Biden ticket polled 26,308 votes, or 80.63 percent of the total. The Romney-Ryan ticket received 3,901 votes, or 11.96 percent, of the total.

Among the children, Green Party candidate Jill Stein received 1,400 votes, or 4.29 percent, while Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got 1,021 votes, or 3.13 percent.

A total of 32,934 Brownsville students cast ballots this year in the mock election, said Estella Martinez, administrative assistant and Kids Voting coordinator at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College Center for Civic Engagement. The center has run Kids Voting since its inception here in 2002.

This year’s mock election reflects a 65.5 percent voter turnout, Martinez said. The total number of eligible voters was 50,248, with 58 of 70 campuses involved through the Kids Voting USA electronic voting system, DoubleClick Democracy. Brownsville Independent School District schools and non-public and charter schools participated.

“It was great to see how passionate many campuses were to participate in the election, and to take the process seriously,” Martinez said. “Over 80 percent of the voters said that they learned about the candidates prior to casting their votes. Additionally, some campuses took the process to the next level and had students conduct their own research on the candidates so that they in turn could have a better grasp of the issues.”

In other mock elections, Republican Jessica Puente Bradshaw edged Democrat Filemon Vela for District 34 U.S. congressman with 10,071 votes, or 45.13 percent of the total, to Vela’s 10,693 votes and 44.72 percent of the total. Libertarian Steven Shanklin received 2,428 votes, or a 10.15 percent share.

The students also voted in the races for Cameron County sheriff and county district attorney.

Democrat Luis V. Saenz easily won the simulated district attorney race with 17,279 votes and 73.14 percent of the total to 6,344 votes and 26.86 percent of the total for Republican Charles Mattingly.

Sheriff Omar Lucio, a Democrat, tallied 17,011 votes and 71.24 percent of the total mock election ballots to 6,869 votes and 28.76 percent of the total for Republican Santiago “Jimmy” Manrrique.

The students also answered two questions on their ballots. Eighty-one percent said they had researched their choices by studying the student voter guide created by Kids Voting USA-Brownsville. Just under 92 percent said the experience of having voted via Kids Voting would motivate them to vote in the future.

Those responses squared with what Father Armand Matthew, a founder of Kids Voting USA-Brownsville, said about the premise for the organization, which is to teach responsible citizenship in a free society.

“Studies show that when young people go through Kids Voting, the adults in their life become more informed and more people are voting,” Matthew said. “Based on the evidence, we have a real hope in Brownsville of seeing 50, 60, 70 — even 90 percent — of adults turning out to vote, and of students leaving high school with a deep sense of responsible citizenship.”


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