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Students mock the vote

November 04, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

In Wednesday's election aftermath, 16-year-old Matt Knotts said he's impressed that his friends have started talking politics.

The Saint Maria Goretti High School junior said it's probably due to a combination of hot political issues and efforts to get out the vote by stars such as Shawn "P. Diddy" Combs.

"Voting numbers are going to increase, and I think that's a good thing," Knotts said.

Knotts and his classmates in a Wednesday afternoon college prep-level government class spent the better part of the hour talking about the candidates and their positions and other national issues.

The school on Oak Hill Avenue held a mock election Tuesday, and student voters handed Bush a win by a 2-1 margin. Although the true election was tighter, a group of students from the Advanced Placement government class spoke with a reporter after class and said they were not discouraged by the system that only four years ago was unable to determine a winner without legal intervention.

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"I think it just went a lot more cleanly and smoothly," said Paul Winslow, 16.

After the last school bell rang, the students named their choices for president, and talked about what they'll be doing to prepare for 2008, when they'll be able to cast their votes for president.

The students said they weighed the Sept. 11 attacks, the subsequent war in Iraq, education and other issues before casting their mock ballots. They said their Catholic education influenced their choices - Catholic doctrine is opposed to abortion.

"That's the only reason that kept me from voting for Kerry," said Knotts, who said he chose Bush although that he believed Kerry was a stronger military leader.

Kevin Sayers, 16, said he cast his mock vote for the Democrat.

"I think our foreign policy is lacking," Sayers said.

"I just think that Bush has handled the whole going to Iraq thing badly," Sarah Warthen, 16, said. She said she didn't like the fact that Bush ignored the United Nations.

Stephen McGinley, 17, quipped that it was unfortunate that so many students voted for Kerry, considering the Catholic church's stance on abortion.

"I think we'll have to have some confessions," McGinley said jokingly, referring to the Catholic practice of asking forgiveness for sins.

Students had a variety of answers to the question of what will be watching for over the next four years.

"I want our soldiers to come home," Knotts said.

"Moral standards," McGinley said.

"Whatever's left of the United States will probably need to change," Warthen said.

"Someone who genuinely wants to help our country," Jessica Meyer, 16, said.

When the students were asked if they believed the voting system worked this time, all said yes, except Knotts, who at first did not want to answer the question.

After a few seconds he said he agreed with his peers. But there's always a next time.

"If it were another Bush-Gore thing" and the vote counts were much closer, it could have been messy, Knotts said. "It is nearly impossible to do everything exactly right."

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