By Kaitlyn Tyra
Amidst the political commotion of the current Presidential Election, LEAP Ambassadors participated in educational civic engagement by hosting Mock Elections for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students at Estella Stewart Elementary School. We arrived as the school bells signaled the start of the school day. To prepare for our students, we set up our polling stations inside the library, relying on colorful voting stations and patriotically designed ballot boxes.
Our goal was to teach the elementary students about the election process and to habituate them to the act of voting.
When the first group of students arrived, they were promptly seated for their first lesson aimed at teaching them about local government. LEAP Ambassadors acted as teachers, educating students about who our government leaders are, how those leaders get elected, and how to participate in the electoral process.
From group to group, the conversations with students varied depending on their questions, but each lesson ended with excited students lining up to cast their votes.
First and second graders were given ballots with pictures to help them identify their choice for president, while fourth graders were given regular ballots with only the candidates’ names on them. The rules for voting were enforced to ensure that our mock elections were as realistic as possible. Talking and looking at others ballots were prohibited. The children were so used to this routine that some, after casting their votes, were worried that they had not written their name on their ballots. We calmed them down by explaining the anonymity of the voting process.
As each student slipped their vote into the ballot box, it was rewarding to see the smiling students excited about voting in their first election! Wearing their “I Voted” stickers with great pride, each student left the room ready to turn 18 and cast their real votes.
Although though the true results will come to light next week, for these mock elections the ballots were counted with Hillary Clinton winning with 64% of the vote.
We suspect that the actual election will be much closer, although we suspect the end result will be the same.
With the jolly goodbyes from a group of happy little voters…
…we left the elementary excited by the children’s excitement in civic engagement. Thank you to Estella Stewart Elementary School for allowing us to visit and contribute to the success of a future generation of voters!