Snyder tops Bernero in BHS mock election
'Educating youth on voting forms the foundation of our democracy'
October 06, 2010 - According to the Secretary of State, Michigan has about 7.2 million registered voters. About 23 percent of voters turned out for the August 2010 primary election. Nineteen percent of voters turned out in Michigan's 2008 primary. Turnout was about 17 percent in 2006.
|Front from left, Taleah Kesteloot, Jeanine Tsoukalas and Megan Gonzalez. Standing from left, Elise Smith, Pam Mazich, Groveland Township Clerk, Marissa Traynor and Thomas Soave. The Brandon Student Council after the Brandon High School Mock Election. Photo by David Fleet. (click for larger version)|
At least one local official is taking aim at not only curbing voter apathy but also sparking youth interest in voting.
"Educating youth on voting forms the foundation of our democracy," said Groveland Township Clerk Pam Mazich who spearheaded a mock election at Brandon High School on Tuesday.
"The youth at Brandon High School are the next voters when they become adults."
The event was with the assistance of the Brandon Student Council and BHS Principal Michael Ferguson.
On Oct. 5, a total of 942 Brandon High School students mock registered and cast their ballot for the next governor of Michigan—the current high school enrollment is 1,207. About 50 students work in class off campus while others were absent from school that day.
While the final vote count in the mock gubernatorial election between candidates Democrat Virg Bernero and Republican Rick Snyder ended with a two-to-one margin for Snyder 633- 309—the real winners were the hundreds of students who participated in the exercise, said Mazich.
"When they leave school they should be equipped with the knowledge of the voting process," she said.
The voting booths were transported from Groveland Township to the school. Under Mazich's supervision, the Brandon Student Council registered each student prior to the vote. Printing Systems in Redford produced the ballots while Oakland County Director of Elections Joseph Rozell donated his time to program the election.
Mazich, along with representatives of The Citizen newspaper, made numerous phone calls to the campaign teams of both candidates requesting Bernero and Snyder to visit the school prior to the mock election.
"The hope was that both candidates would come to Brandon and field some questions from students or talk about their platform," said Mazich.
While the candidates responded to the request, they opted not to personally attend the mock election at the high school.
However, Kelly Bernero, 22, the daughter of Virg and statewide Campus and Youth Coordinator for the Democratic Party statewide, visited Brandon High School following the election.
"You all have a role to play in this election," said Kelly. "Think your vote does not matter? Hitler was elected to the Nazi Party by one vote."
At the end of her address, Kelly a re The recent University of Michigan graduate enlisted volunteers from the classrooms she visited who are willing to make phone calls, send out Facebook messages and knock on doors on behalf of the Democratic Party.
While the BHS vote was not favorable for Virg Bernero, the outcome was not surprising for Richard Hula, political science director at Michigan State University.
Hula commented on the results of the mock election at Brandon High School and reflected on the relationship between youth along with the voting habits of their parents.
"The conventional wisdom is that kids and parents vote the same," said Hula. "I would bet that the 2-1 margin would be a good indication of how the election will turn out in that section of the county. Right now statewide, the Democrats are having a hard time mobilizing these voters. For that matter, if you look at both parties, Democrats and Republicans, they are not trying to sway the other, just getting their voters out. The rule has been that Democratic voters are less sophisticated and less committed, but there are more of them compared to Republicans, who are better educated and better informed."
"Change in voter trends occurs slowly—but it does happen," he continued. "The Great Depression rearranged how people thought. I don't think the current recession will cause a total realignment of the election. It's going to come down to who's voting and who is not going to vote. It's going to be a bunch of voters that don't come out that will dictate the outcome."