An HCC first: a Democrat wins

October 29, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- This year, Hagerstown Community College is a blue campus: It picked Sen. Barack Obama in a mock election Tuesday.

Out of a record 624 votes, Obama, the Democratic nominee, received 343 and Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, had 236, HCC spokeswoman Beth Stull said. There were 45 write-in votes.

That ended the campus' streak of picking Republicans the last three presidential election years.

Spring Ward, who teaches government at HCC, said the simulated election -- one week before the real election -- was meant to "give the students another chance to get involved in politics."

Leading up to the election, students learned about candidates' platforms, designed campaign posters and did a comparative analysis of the major parties' Web sites.


Students, staff and faculty were eligible to vote at any of the three polling places. The process was simple: Mark "Obama" or "McCain" on a paper ballot, or write in another candidate, and stuff it in a box.

The 45 write-in votes included eight for Ron Paul, four for Ralph Nader, two for Hillary Clinton and one for Mike Huckabee.

Conservative rock star Ted Nugent received four votes.

Ward said she has heard a range of student views on campus, with different degrees of political knowledge and interest.

After casting her ballot in the Learning Resource Center, first-year student Amanda Mellott, 23, of Hagerstown, said she voted for McCain. She praised his work on immigration reform.

She also liked that he served in the military -- experience that also appealed to 34-year-old freshman John Bennett, who said he's stationed at the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore.

"Really, for me, I can relate more" to McCain, he said.

Bennett was working at the Learning Resource Center polling booth with 19-year-old Vance Almy of Smithsburg, who also liked McCain for his experience as a veteran.

At the College Center, poll worker Gerald Price, 20, of Hagerstown, said he gravitated to Obama after watching the presidential debates and researching issues for campaign posters.

Kameron Armacost, a 20-year-old freshman from Gettysburg, Pa., said he's sold on Obama because of his support for stem-cell research, a meaningful topic because Armacost's sister has diabetes.

In 2004, Republican George W. Bush received 184 votes in HCC's mock election, beating Democrat John Kerry, who had 145. Third-party candidate Ralph Nader had nine.

The 2000 mock election also went to Bush, who had 171 votes, defeating Democrat Al Gore, who received 124. Nader had 28 votes.

In 1996, Democrat Bill Clinton won the national election, but not the HCC race. He lost to Republican Robert Dole, 174 to 155. Third-party candidate H. Ross Perot had 52 votes.

HCC's mock election started as a gauge of just students' views, but in 2004, staff and faculty were allowed to vote, as they were this year.

The Herald-Mail Articles