As the bell signaled the end of class and beginning of lunch, students at the Kent Performance Learning Center were anxious and excited not for their hour of freedom but to vote. The Kent PLC was one of over a dozen Performance Learning Centers across the nation that participated in a nation-wide Performance Learning Center Mock Election.
Developed by the Catoosa County PLC staff and students, the Performance Learning Center Mock Election was designed to teach students about the election and the national political process in a hands-on and current way. As stated in the plan of the mock election the purpose was:
“To Raise civic awareness and interest among new and future teen voters by involving them more directly into an election, not just by voting in one, but actually running one themselves and taking part in most of the major elements of a modern election, including media and telecommunications.”
In all, the PLC mock election recreated the national election on a smaller scale with each Performance Learning Center acting as a state, and the students carrying out the various roles that occur in a national election. The Electoral College was re-created by calculating electoral votes for each participating PLC based on the population of the PLC’s district. Students not only voted, but wrote blogs about election issues, watched and discussed the presidential debates, acted out various electoral roles such as lobbyists, journalists, and pundits with some select students acting out the roles of the candidates themselves. Along the way students wrote about their experiences and what they learned about the political process that they were participating in and the national election that was happening around them.
Students at the Kent Performance Learning Center participated in this unique experience by acting out the role of voters. Each student filled out a voter’s registration form, and then received a voter’s card. Come Election Day, held on Monday, November 3rd, students lined up to vote in a classroom turned into a mock election precinct.
Jennifer and Fez, the designated Poll Workers, checked in students according to their registered voter list. After being checked in, each voter went to one of three voter booths set up where on a computer they voted for their presidential candidate of choice, and then answered a series of exit polling questions. Before leaving each student received an “I Voted” sticker from Jennifer or Fez.
49 students at the Kent PLC registered to vote, and 36 came out to vote on Monday leaving Kent with a 73.5% voter turn out, well above the national average.
Tuesday, November 4th, was the big results day. Students at all the participating PLC’s gathered in classrooms to watch the results be announced via a webcast. The Catoosa County PLC students acted as election reporters, announcing the results for each PLC as votes came in. Kent, with 10 electoral votes, had 30 votes for Obama, 3 for McCain, and 3 for other; resulting in Obama receiving Kent’s 10 electoral votes. Over an hour, results were announced from PLCs in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and from Communities In Schools National headquarters. After an hour of watching votes being counted, the final results were in:
Candidate Electoral Vote Total
Barack Obama/Joe Biden (Dem) 151
John McCain/Sarah Palin (Rep) 37
Candidate Popular Vote %
Barack Obama (Dem) 561 64%
John McCain (Rep) 281 32%
Bob Barr (Lib) 30 3%
Ralph Nader (Ind) 4 <1%
Chuck Baldwin (Const) 1 <1%
Gloria la Riva (Soc) 1 <1%
Obama was declared the overwhelming victor. It was easy to tell that the students were excited to participate in the mock election by the cheers of excitement that filled the classrooms after the final results were announced. The mock election was a historical and unique opportunity for PLC students in a year filled with historical and groundbreaking events.