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Posts tagged: Idaho Student Mock Election

High school students in mock election divided on gov’s race, narrowly back Otter over Balukoff

Idaho high school government students participating in the Idaho Mock Student Election were deeply divided in the race for governor, but they gave the edge to GOP Gov. Butch Otter, with 679 votes to Democrat A.J. Balukoff’s 617 votes. Libertarian John Bujak trailed with 131 votes, independent Jill Humble with 122, “Pro-Life” with 99, and Constitution Party candidate Steve Pankey with 93.

That gave Otter 39 percent; Balukoff 35 percent; Bujak 7.5 percent; Humble 7 percent; Pro-Life 6 percent; and Pankey, 5 percent. In all other state races, students favored the Republican candidate over the Democratic candidate, from U.S. Senate to state superintendent of schools; the full results are online here. The students also were queried on an “advisory vote” asking if they’d support a federal or state government program to repay a portion of student loans with a two-year commitment to alternate community service; they overwhelmingly supported the idea, with 79 percent in favor.

Just 28 schools participated this year, down from 50 in 2010. But more of the students who were registered to participate actually did this year, at 55 percent, compared to 35 percent in 2010. Jim Mairs of the Idaho Secretary of State’s office noted that participation this year was much more heavily skewed to the 1st Congressional District than the 2nd. In 2008, the Idaho Student Mock Election results backed Barack Obama over John McCain; in 2012, students from 36 schools narrowly backed Mitt Romney over Obama, and overwhelmingly rejected the “Students Come First” school reform laws.

Mairs said the mock election isn’t intended as a “crystal ball” – instead, it’s a “voting exercise.” “I think it went really well,” he said. “It’s designed to provide teachers with an enhancement to their curriculum.”

In statewide mock election, Idaho students pick Romney, reject school reform measures

In the fourth Idaho Student Mock Election, high school seniors across the state cast online ballots last week, and today the results are out: The students narrowly picked Mitt Romney for president and backed two state constitutional amendments, but overwhelmingly turned thumbs down on the three school reform measures, Propositions 1, 2 and 3, rejecting Proposition 3 by 81 percent.

Students at 36 schools cast ballots, from Grangeville to Homedale, from Sandpoint to Wendell. Among the schools where seniors cast ballots in their high school government classes were Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Cambridge Junior/Senior High School, Eagle Academy and Coeur d'Alene High; a total of 1,745 ballots were cast.

“It's a practical exercise in participation,” said Jim Mairs, Help America Vote Act coordinator for the Idaho Secretary of State's office. “That's the whole purpose of it.” The Idaho Student Mock Election is conducted by the Secretary of State's office in coordination with the State Department of Education; information is sent out to all the senior high school government and social studies teachers in the state, who have the option of registering their students to participate. Students vote in class on school computers. “We try and make it a really good teaching moment, as they call it in the Department of Education,” Mairs said. “We put in everything about the propositions, all the links. If they want to read the law, they can read it.”

The whole thing becomes “a very practical civics lesson,” Mairs said. “This is what happens when you vote, and here's where you can find some information about some of these things. Hopefully that rubs off on some of these younger voters.”

Four years ago, Idaho students backed Barack Obama for president in the mock election, but this time, he garnered just 42.9 percent support from the students, while Republican challenger Mitt Romney won with 49.9 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson got 4.4 percent; and Green Party candidate Jill Stein got 1.3 percent;  while independent Rocky Anderson had 1 percent and Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode trailed with 0.5 percent.

On the school reform propositions, students rejected Proposition 1, curbing teachers' collective bargaining rights, 72 percent to 28 percent; rejected Proposition 2, a teacher merit-pay bonus plan, 75-25; and said no to Proposition 3, regarding school technology, laptop computers and online learning, 81-19 percent.

The students backed both SJR 102, a one-word change to the state Constitution regarding county management of misdemeanor probation services, and HJR2aa, adding a right to hunt, fish and trap to the Idaho Constitution, by 69 percent each. They also cast ballots on congressional races, picking Republican Rep. Mike Simpson in the 2nd District race over Democratic challenger  Nicole LeFavour, 59-41; and choosing GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, 49.7 percent, over challengers Jimmy Farris, Democrat, 31.2; Pro-Life, independent, 9.6; and Rob Oates, Libertarian, 9.5.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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