By Brian Graves, Staff Writer
Monday, November 5, 2012 —
There were votes counted Thursday morning in Stanly County.
More than 300 went to the polls and the results are in.
But, don’t worry.
These were not the official votes that will decide many local, state and national races on Tuesday.
These were votes in a mock election held by the students at South Stanly High School.
The event was held on what had been designated “Mock Election Day” in schools throughout the country.
Faculty members Carla McSwain, U.S. History teacher, and Derek Bush, Spanish teacher, lead the efforts to get the students involved and interested in the democratic process.
“My dad made the voting booths and the art classes painted them,” Bush said. “I do this because I like doing it.”
The U.S History classes made posters with information about all the candidates and posted them in the hallway to help students better understand each candidate’s platform.
“We want the students to explore the different parties and decide how they feel about them,” Bush said. “At the same time, there is so much discourse, I tell them to respect the other side, stand up for your principals and what you believe in. But, you don’t attack anyone for their beliefs.”
Students were allowed to vote for president, U.S. Representative, governor, state senate and state representative.
Four voting booths, utilizing school laptop computers, were used as electronic voting systems in the school’s media center.
Once the student’s entered the polling place, members of political student-led clubs checked homeroom lists to assure no one had voted twice.
The lunch blocks between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. were used as the voting time.
Some “early voting” was also allowed after the polls were set up at 8 a.m.
Trey Mabry, SSHS junior, said the process has been a learning experience for everyone.
“We researched all the people and learned things we didn’t know,” Mabry said. “It’s important because people get to see what is going on politically in the world.”
Learning about the issues has been a sobering process for the students who took an interest.
“It makes me cautious about those things,” Mabry said. “I hear my parents talking about those things and it makes you wonder. When you start reading and hearing more about it, it does make you feel more mature.”
If the final results from SSHS are any indication, it could be a long night in some races.
Mitt Romney defeated Barak Obama in the presidential race 55 percent to 41 percent with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson getting four percent.
In the race for the U.S. House of Representatives, incumbent Larry Kissell edged out Richard Hudson 51 to 48 percent.
The governor’s race was a blowout with Pat McCrory getting 58 percent to Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton’s 30 percent. Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe received 11 percent of the vote.
Stanly County Commissioner Gene McIntyre defeated Gene McLaurin in the race for State Senate District 25 by a margin of 55 percent to 44 percent.
Incumbent Justin Burr defeated Kevin Furr 57 to 40 percent in the race for the state House of Representatives District 67 seat.
Two other interesting statistics came from the student’s participation.
It was an almost even split of the classes participating with approximately each class representing one-fourth of the voters.
When it comes to which political party the students most identify with, 47 percent said they were closer to the Republican Party while 29 percent more closely identified with the Democratic Party.