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Kids' votes don't count, but they're counted

October 31, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Erica Sagal believes that children as young as 12 should be allowed to vote in presidential elections.

Maybe that's because the E. Russell Hicks Middle School seventh-grader is 12 years old. And while she can't vote in the Nov. 4 general election, Erica joined thousands of Washington County Public Schools students who recently cast ballots in a mock election. With final results not yet available, local students appeared to be leaning toward Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama by a slim margin.

Obama won handily at Erica's school, where he beat GOP presidential nominee John McCain, 424-190.

The mock election was a partnership between The Herald-Mail's Newspaper in Education Program and Washington County Public Schools.

"The election resembles the election for adults," said Amanda Harrast, 12, an E. Russell Hicks student.

Students voted in the presidential and 6th District Congressional races. They also selected an issue that was important to them and chose a past president they support.

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E. Russell Hicks teacher Amanda Baran said she noticed her students would bring up the presidential election during class discussions. Baran said she took that opportunity to answer some of the questions they had and talk about important current news in her "global issues class."

"It's a good way for kids to speak their mind," Erica said of the mock election.

Students across Washington County said the most important issue on their minds when voting was the economy. Other issues important to students included health care and global warming.

Erica said she does worry about the economy, and said the trillions of dollars of debt incurred by the United States is "really bad."

In addition to voting for McCain, Erica said she also voted for "the Bartlett person" - referring to incumbent Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican.

Whitley Tobei, 12, an E. Russell Hicks seventh-grader, said it was "pretty cool to count the votes." Whitley and Erica are members of the school's student government group that was in charge of tallying votes Thursday.

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