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Posted: November 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Practicing at the polls

Heard-Mixon students vote for president,

Amber Pittman/

By ballot box or computer: (Above) Kaden Terry, 6, a first-grader at Heard-Mixon Elementary School, chooses the candidate he would like to be president by circling the face of either John McCain or Barack Obama in the mock election.

In an effort to allow their students to become involved in the electoral process, Heard-Mixon Elementary School organized a Mock Election Thursday. Students of all ages were asked to participate and vote for the candidate they thought would be the best president.

According to EIP teacher Sharon Lord, since this year marks a historic election, she decided to try and find a way to allow the students to become involved themselves. She found what she was looking for with the Youth Leadership Initiative, an organization that conducts the largest secure, student-only, online mock election in the nation, according to the group’s Web site.

The organization also tailors their electronic ballots to each student’s home legislative district to allow them to vote for not only a presidential candidate but also House of Representatives and Senate. The younger students were given a ballot with the candidates' faces on it and asked to circle the person they wanted for president.

Students were urged to be quiet as they walked past the voting room, and they were told they were not to converse with one another during the process. The computers as well as outside the classroom were decked with patriotic balloons and streamers, as well as posters. Patriotic music played as they lined up to take their turns to vote.

Fifth grader Allison Simmons, 10, said that she had decided to vote for Obama.

"I decided to vote for him because he’s a Democrat," she said. "I also think he is a good leader and would do a good job as president."

Jennifer Stephens, also 10-years-old, decided to cast her vote for Obama.

"I like him because he said he’s going to lower taxes," she said. "That would help because we wouldn’t have to pay as much for groceries and stuff we need."

Second-grader Jared Glover, age 7, voted for McCain.

"I don’t know why; I just think he’s going to make it," he said. "I don’t know why I think that – I’ve never voted before."

Tyler Pullen, age 10, said that he was going to vote for McCain as well.

"I’m voting for McCain because my momma said he’d be a good president," the fifth-grader said. "We’ve been watching him on television a lot, and I think he’s a good choice."

The results will be tallied by the Youth Leadership Initiative and returned to the school in roughly a few weeks.

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