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Acalanes Hosts Primary Election Simulation

By Emerson Brown, staff writer

// Teachers distribute ballots, students pencil in bubbles, and Bernie, Biden, and Buttigieg accumulate their votes. This is not the California primary, though, this is Acalanes’ simulated election. 

   Students voted in the Acalanes Election Simulation Project on Monday, March 2, and Tuesday, March 3, to simulate the primaries and local elections taking place on March 3. 

   Social studies teachers, and English teachers, passed out ballots to students on March 2. Students filled out those ballots and turned them into the ballot box in the Library for Barbra Burkhalter, the librarian, to calculate the results. 

Senior Charlie Keohane casts her vote.
By Zoe Cate

   Out of the 717 students who registered to vote, 400 students turned in their ballots. 109 freshman voted, 53 sophomores voted, 47 juniors, and 139 seniors. Last year in the 2018 midterm simulation, 33 percent of students who registered turned out to vote. Numbers improved this year, as 56 percent of registered voters turned out. 

   For the Democratic primary, Joe Biden won with 102 votes, trailed by Bernie Sanders with 77 votes. Elizabeth Warren received 50, Mike Bloomberg had 42, and Tulsi Gabbard won seven. Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out on Sunday, March 1, won 33 votes, and Amy Klobuchar, who dropped out on Monday, March 2, gained six votes. 

   On the Republican side, Donald Trump got 57 votes, and Bill Weld had six. The Green Party won nine votes, and the Libertarians won 11 votes. 

   Mark DeSaulnier (D) won the House of Representatives seat, and Mariol Rubio (D) won the State Senate seat. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D) won the State Assembly seat. 

   The ballot lists the candidate’s political party affiliation next to their name, and many students reported that they voted based on this. 

   “I do not remember who I voted for. I am a Democrat so probably Democratic Party candidate,” sophomore Elise Flagg said. 

   While some students voted based on party affiliation, others voted based on electability.

   “I voted for Bernie because I think he is the one who can beat Trump,” sophomore Jane Bishop said. 

   Advertisements can play a massive role in the undecided voter demographic, especially on measures that a lot of voters do not research. 

   “I believe I voted ‘yes’ on L just because of how many ads I’ve seen around the school and all the posters. I just feel like if I voted ‘no,’ I would feel sorry for their efforts, so I voted ‘yes’ on L,” senior Yicheng Yao said. 

   Propositions need a supermajority of 66 percent to pass. Proposition 13 which allowed the state to sell bonds to find schools passed with about 70 percent of the vote. Measure J, which proposed a sales tax for fund transportation, failed with 59.5 percent. Measure L, a parcel tax to fund Lafayette schools, also passed with 71 percent.

   317 students registered but did not vote, and they had different reasons for not voting. 

   “I don’t have a preference of who should be our next president,” junior Max Nelson said. 

   Some students thought they did not know enough information to choose a candidate. 

   “I was not really informed about it, so I decided not to vote,” sophomore Stella Bobrowsky said. 

    Others did not vote because they missed the deadline to register. 

   “I didn’t vote because I didn’t really know the deadlines or anything or that you had to actually register,” junior Samantha Alfaro said. 

   The deadlines served to simulate the real election as much as possible. In California, if citizens did not register before February 17, they cannot vote in the election on March 3. 

   “If you don’t get registered in time, you don’t get to vote just like in the real world. It models the real world with the ballot and everything,” librarian Barbra Burkhalter said. 

   Burkhalter organized the many parts of the election simulation with teachers in other subjects to create the most realistic and informative experience for students.

   “I’m kind of the coordinator of [the whole simulation]. Mr. Honda has done a number of election-related projects… Dr. Z will do a statistical thing looking at the election, and history teachers will do something historical and current related to elections,” Burkhalter explained.  

   The election simulation allows students the experience of registration, voting, and receiving results, and Burklater hopes that this will encourage students to involve themselves in politics. 

   “Voting is just one type of civic engagement and sometimes when you’re reading about these things and learning about them… it can lead to further engagement in their community and world,” Burkhalter said.  

   The simulation also demystifies the voting process, which can be beneficial in the long run. Voting can be a complicated process, and beginning in an election with no real-world effects can be a foundation for voting in actual elections. 

   “Some studies have shown that if people start voting early on, it becomes a lifelong habit. If you get registered and voting when they’re 18 or 21, hopefully, it keeps going,” Burkhalter said. 

   Voting is a fundamental right, and to use that freedom is an American privilege. 

   “We have a democracy, and our democracy is fragile. If we want to keep our democracy, if we want to keep our freedoms, if we want to keep our liberty, then we need to go out and vote and exercise that freedom otherwise that will be taken away,” history teacher Kristen Anderson said about the importance of voting. 

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