By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 8, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 8, 2012) -- As people all over the nation cast their votes for the president of the United States Nov. 6, students at the Fort Rucker Primary School wouldn't be left out as they cast their own votes in a mock election.
Out of the 324 ballots distributed throughout the primary school, Mitt Romney came out victorious as the student's choice for the new president, winning by 26 votes, according to Brenda Forti, gifted education resource teacher at Fort Rucker Primary School.
"We're doing a mock presidential election here at the primary school to teach the [children] about the voting process," said Forti. "We did a whole unit [in class] on government and elections, so they learned about the entire process of electing a president from how they get nominated and even about the Electoral College."
The mock election had polls where children were lined up and each had to register to vote before they were handed a ballot that they had to take to makeshift voting booths: blue for Obama and red for Romney.
"The children created the voting booths, did all the painting and designed them," said Forti. "They also created the ballot boxes, helped create the ballots and made their own signs."
After voting, each student cast his or her ballot into a ballot box before they were given an "I voted" sticker.
Before the mock election, the teachers had to make sure that the election was in terms that the children understood, said Forti. The votes were completely nonpartisan and based on what was developmentally appropriate for the children.
"We went to the classrooms and surveyed the students about what type of information they would need to be able to make an informed decision on each of the candidates," she said. "What they wanted to know were things like what the candidates' favorite sports were, favorite books or favorite foods."
Based on this information, the teachers were able to create a mock platform for each of candidates to run on that the children could understand, said Forti.
"The children aren't going to know about the real issues the candidates run on and they don't need to know about them at this age," she said. "This is an opportunity for them to have fun and learn."
Forti also said that even though the children were voting for their candidate based on favorite foods or sports, they understood that these were not the same issues that their parents voted on during the real presidential election, and that the purpose of the exercise was to develop problem solving skills.
"One of our two school goals is problem solving and we make that the main focus," she said. "If they practice their problem solving skills, they can become leaders."
Kamryn Kerr, kindergarten student at Fort Rucker Primary School and poll worker for the mock election, understood the lessons to be learned during the mock election.
"We're handing out the ballots so that we can vote," she said. "We're also learning about the presidents' but this isn't a real election. In real life you have to be 18 to vote and at least 35 to be president."
Having activities like a mock election is something that Forti said reinforces the learning that they receive in class.
"They understand a lot of the basics and we do these things because we want these children to develop into good citizens," she said. "A good citizen is someone who takes responsibility and votes, and makes sure to know about the issues."