Natchez students vote Gore in mock election Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Students at three high schools in Natchez &uot;elected&uot; Al Gore as the next president during a statewide mock election Tuesday.

Gore won with 836 votes, followed by George W. Bush with 674.

Seventh to 12th-grade students at Adams County Christian School, Cathedral School and Natchez High School participated.

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Many of the students said they liked the chance to be involved in the political process.

&uot;It’s like voicing our opinion,&uot; said Shymel Magee, a 17-year-old senior at Natchez High School.

Students at Trinity Episcopal Day School did not vote Tuesday because they will hold a mock election Nov. 7.

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s office coordinated the mock election as a way to promote an interest in government and elections by young people, said Secretary of State Eric Clark.

&uot;If we’re going to have an effective government in our country, we’ve got to reverse the trend of young people opting out of politics and voting,&uot; Clark said.

More than 170,00 students from about 350 public and private schools signed up to participate.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the voting tally for 190 of of the schools was available on the Internet.

Out of more than 57,000 votes cast, the students elected Bush as the next president with 32,810 votes or 57 percent of the total. Gore received 20,916 votes or 36 percent.

Independent Ralph Nader placed third with 1,219 votes or 2 percent.

Natchez High senior Michael Anderson thinks the mock election helps students understand the influence they have on the country.

&uot;I think it allows teenagers to understand that their voting power and their buying powers are two very important powers,&uot; he said.

Cathedral seniors Deighton Zerby, Nan White and Anne Harriss also think the mock election gives young people, who can not vote, an opportunity to express their voice.

&uot;Whoever wins will influence their futures too,&uot; said White, who is 17 years old.

And Zerby views the mock election as a predicator of what may happen nationally.

&uot;I think they’re better than media-run polls because they show a more diversified group,&uot; Zerby said.

Teachers agree the mock election is a good experience for students.

Libby Voss, a teacher at Cathedral, said she thinks the mock election helps 18-year-olds who are voting for the first time get over any fears they have about the process.

&uot;When it comes down to it, they’re kind of scared,&uot; she said.

To make the experience more personal to younger students, Adams County Christian School allowed its elementary students to vote in the mock election, but their votes were not included in the printed totals.

&uot;They thought it was neat,&uot; said Micholyn Barnes, ACCS guidance counselor, about the elementary-age voters. &uot;They thought they were grown-ups.&uot;

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