Lifestyle

Student race takes on world election flavor

LEFT: North Whidbey Middle School sixth-graders Sydney Ericksen and Mollie Bridell cast votes during school elections. The Island County Auditor’s Office provided ballots, voting stations and a ballot box to give the middle school elections more of a real-world feel. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
LEFT: North Whidbey Middle School sixth-graders Sydney Ericksen and Mollie Bridell cast votes during school elections. The Island County Auditor’s Office provided ballots, voting stations and a ballot box to give the middle school elections more of a real-world feel.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

A school election last week looked similar to last year’s presidential race.

Staff from the Island County Auditor’s Office arrived at North Whidbey Middle School with the equipment that gave the school’s ASB election a look similar to what voters encounter during a general election.

Michele Reagan and Loann Gulick brought voting stations, a ballot box and ballots printed to look similar to ballots the auditor’s office publishes for regular elections. Only this time, the ballots had the names of the students running for class president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and activities coordinator. The election gave the students an idea of what voters face when they participate in an election.

Amy Nurvic, ASB advisor at North Whidbey Middle School, said the endeavor was to “try to make our election process as similar to the real election as possible.”

She said the school’s election have never been done that way in the past. Typically votes are cast in the classroom rather than during lunch.

“It makes things run a lot smoother,” sixth-grader Bailey Kinker said as she was preparing to sign classmates up to vote. She is also running for president this year.

“It’s a lot of fun,” chimed in classmate Mollie Bridell, who is also running for secretary.

Once students cast their ballots, they received their “I Voted” sticker to show they participated.

Even though the majority of votes in countywide elections are now cast via mail, Reagan said people still drop their ballot at the Auditor’s Office or selected polling places so they can pick up their sticker.

“You’d be surprised how many people get excited about it,” Reagan said about the stickers.

Once the voting was complete, Reagan and Gulick gathered the ballots and took them back to their office in Coupeville to count them.

More than half of the nearly 400 sixth and seventh-graders voted. Nurvic said many students waited in the line and missed out on their outdoor time so they could cast ballots.

Once the count was complete, seventh-grader Olivia Meyer was elected president, sixth-grader Sydney Ericksen was elected vice president, sixth-grader Jairus Davis was elected treasurer, sixth-grader Mollie Briddell was elected secretary and sixth-grader Mark Rayray was elected activities coordinator.

It’s been years since auditor’s office staff ventured into a local school to conduct an election.

Reagan said since the paper was donated, the cost of holding such an educational exercise is minimal. It just takes a smidgen of time to process the student ballots.

Reagan said the last time the Auditor’s Office participated, the old punch card system was still in use.

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