By Anthony Romanelli and Ryan Kupperman, staff writers
The ballots have been cast. The people have spoken. In a remarkably small voter turnout, no more than a thousand constituents voted this year. The elections for the House, Senate, and Presidency have been decided entirely by the youth vote. After all the debates and town halls and campaigning, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein all now face a possible defeat all thanks to this vote. Well, in Prospect, that is.
Prospect High School’s mock election on Tuesday in the Community Room encouraged students to come and cast their ballots. The event was constructed to look like an election center to the best of the administration’s ability, with voting booths provided by the local League of Women Voters office. Special care was taken to make sure no student voted twice, so no, this election is not a rigged system.
According to Gary Judson, head of the World Language and Social Sciences Division, the mock election is part of an effort to increase political awareness, especially around election season, when it has become especially relevant. This event, while more prominent this year, is nothing new.
“We have been doing this since before I’ve been here,” Judson said. “and I’ve been here 30 years.”
When students went in they were greeted by teachers and students who volunteered to facilitate the process. After giving their last names, students were crossed off a list (to prevent voter fraud) and directed to a ballot booth, where they filled out a ScanTron sheet for their choice of president, House representative, Senator, and their support on the proposed Safe Roads Amendment, which may be added to the Illinois constitution.
Census data was also taken, with the remainder of the questions asking year in school and gender. Judson says that the survey will be compiled and delivered directly to the Prospector, who have been working along with this event and are expected to cover the results of the polling. Despite their political natures, the Prospect Debate Team and Conservative Club were not involved in the proceedings, but Judson is not ruling them out for 2020.
This year’s presidential election has been amongst the most contentious in American history, and it doesn’t seem like America wants any of them. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has a 56% negative approval rate amongst Americans and with Republican Donald Trump at 63%, it’s interesting to see what poll numbers in Prospect will reflect.
According to freshman Mark Graham, a member of the Prospect Debate Team, his choice for President was Hillary Clinton, if only for her political experience. Students district-wide have been pulled into the political world, with candidates like Trump and Sanders bringing the youth to the forefront.
“I feel it’s an important part of everyone’s life. It’s a big deal,” said sophomore Tillie Pasternak. “It (the election) affects my life and the people around me, and having people who I believe in, make decisions for our country is a big part of my life.”
From Clinton’s “Pokémon Go to the polls” to Trump’s “What do you have to lose?”, major party candidates have attempted to convince minority and millennial votes with sometimes limited success. What is clear is that for better or for worse, this year’s election has gotten high schoolers more invested in politics than ever before.
While wrangling with the younger demographics has certainly been a challenge for all four of the running candidates, how this will affect the race of 2020, mock or otherwise, remains an important question, even in the halls of Prospect.
“I think it’s always good to understand and participate in your civic duty,” said Judson. “[It’s about] trying to get [students] to think that their vote does count.”