Election Collection: Acalanes 2020 Election Simulation

By Shrida Pandey and Lyanne Wang, Online News Editor and Staff Writer

// As citizens all around the country voted through mail-in ballots and at poll booths, students at Acalanes High School participated in their own mock election. 

   The Acalanes library hosted its annual Election Simulation Project for students to vote in a replication of the Nov. 3 election. 

   The Election Simulation Project differed from previous years due to the pandemic and distance learning. Although students still registered to vote online, they submitted their ballots as Google Forms rather than dropping them off at the library. 

   “Voting [online] was surprisingly fast. Registering and voting was a simple process,” sophomore Sofie Foster said.

   Although some students didn’t think the process was complicated, digital voting resulted in a lower student turnout.

   “Everyone… is so overwhelmed by remote learning and all that is going on in the world. It was hard for many to add in one more extra thing, despite it being an important issue to learn about,” Acalanes Librarian Barbara Burkhalter said.

    Unexpected technical difficulties also contributed to less student participation.

   “I never actually received the ballot in my email. I’m not sure if it got lost in my email or if there was something else happening, but I wasn’t able to vote,” junior Sylvia Deng said.

   Other students forgot about the deadline to turn in their votes. 

   “I wanted to participate in the voting process but I ended up forgetting to cast my ballot. I think in years prior we were reminded a lot more, so I didn’t pay much attention to the due date,” junior Tessa Chan said. 

   Students who did participate in the election only voted on six state propositions and five candidates. 

   “The actual [proposition and candidates] ballot is longer, but we wanted to make it more focused, and so [the library] did an abridged version,” Burkhalter said. 

   Many students reviewed each candidate’s goals as well as the debates for the various propositions prior to making their decision.

   “I did research beforehand. I read through the Blueprint article on propositions and candidates and also looked through the informational packet that my parents got in the mail,” senior Madison Payne said.

    Teachers also encouraged voting in the mock election by reminding students in class or by sending out additional emails.

   “It’s important for students to participate in the election simulation for various reasons, the first being that the simulation is as close to life-like as you can get, so it allows students to be able to learn what the voting process is like so that they can be active voters when they turn 18,” history teacher Haley Walsh said.

   Still, only 247 students cast their votes compared to the 400 in the Primary Election Simulation last year. Out of the 247 students, 210 chose Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as their Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates while 31 picked incumbents Donald Trump and Michael Pence.

Third-party candidates accumulated less than 0.005 percent of the votes with nine votes to Kanye West, four votes to Jo Jorgensen, and three votes to Howie Hawkins.

   Students also voted to approve all of the propositions on the ballot and elected Mark DeSalunier for the House of Representatives, Steve Glazer as a State Senator, and Rebecca Bauer-Khan for State Assembly

   Regardless of the outcome of the mock election, many students appreciated the opportunity to partake in the election process.

   “I feel like voting is such an important part of democracy in our country. It’s super important for kids our age to do their research and make decisions for themselves. I also voted in the election this year, and this pushed me to do some research prior to casting my official vote,” senior Ellie Palma said.

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