Voter turn out in this day and age is surprisingly low, especially for new voters of the age of 18 who are not as educated or involved in political issues as they should be. But thanks to teachers like Timber Creek’s Mike Otto, students got the chance to participate in their own mock election.
The whole election process was split up among five days. Day one started with separating each class into a Democratic and a Republican party, then Mr. Otto had each party come up with a platform of ten issues that would impact the primary and election debates. Day one also included students announcing their candidacy for president. Each party had to have a minimum of three candidates, but no more that six candidates for president.
Day two consisted of the primary debates for each party and each member of the party could then vote for their presidential candidate. Once the votes were tallied, and the candidates decided, each party got to have a convention to celebrate their presidential candidate. Students brought food and decorations to make their side of Mr. Otto’s classroom the coolest. The party with the coolest convention got more money for their campaign. Each student who wasn’t running for president was running for a seat in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.
From day three to five, each party was faced with a disadvantage card and an advantage card that both helped and hurt either their campaign funds or their standings in the polls. Each of the cards simulated actual events that political parties deal with such as scandals, money donations, good/bad speeches, loss of voter support, etc. At the end of each day of the election process, each party would get the chance to spend money on attack/promotional ads to boost members of their party up in the polls. The parties had to ration their money over all five days. Day three’s focus was on campaigning. Each student could create a poster, video, editorial, or an attack ad on their opponent to gain more points in the poll if their campaign item was better than their opponents.
Day four was the beginning of the debates. Each candidate for the House had to be prepared to talk on one of the issues on their platform and/or refute their opponent’s stance on an issue, the Senate members had to be prepared to address two issues and/or refute their opponent’s stance, and the Presidential candidates were required to address up to five issues that Mr. Otto chose off of each party’s platform. Mr. Otto acted as the moderator as each candidate gave their stance on the issue and refuted their opponent’s stance in order to boost their stance in the polls. Each candidate who debated could go up 3 points in the polls per issue if they won the debate. The debates carried on into the fifth day at the end of the fifth day the winners of each position were announced. For each House victory, the party won three points, for every Senate victory, the party won five points, and the party that won the Presidential victory was awarded fifteen points. The party that won was awarded bonus points on the next test, and the losing party benefited nothing.
However, it didn’t matter if you were a part of the winning party or not, every single student, of the voting age or not, benefitted from this project. Not only did it help students develop their own opinions on political issues, but it informed them on how important voting is in the Presidential elections and in the Congressional elections. Mr. Otto even went to the effort of sending out students in AP government to got to lunch tables during every lunch to see if students were registered to vote, and if they weren’t, help them get registered to they can participate in this 2016 Presidential election and exercise their civil right as an American citizen.