Spearheaded by Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's Promote the Vote, an educational program designed to encourage civic participation in youth, more than 104,000 students from 78 counties cast a ballot for their presidential candidate in the Mock Election.
Studies Weekly, a textbook-replacement publisher who serves nearly 20,000 elementary students across the state in history, social studies, math and science, conducted the online election that allowed students to vote right in their classrooms.
"This is the largest statewide participation since the program began in 1996," said Pamela Weaver, director of communication for Hosemann's office. "In previous years, the results of the mock elections have closely reflected the election results in Mississippi."
"Kindergarten-12 educators play a unique role in introducing Mississippi youth to the democratic process upon which our nation is built as well as encouraging student participation," said U.S. Congressman from Mississippi Steven Palazzo. "I am encouraged by the participation in the Promote the Vote Program."
This year's results, as announced by Hosemann were 57,880 votes, or 55 percent, for Barack Obama to 46,724, or 45 percent, for Mitt Romney.
"The idea behind the mock election is that if students 'vote' every four years as part of their education they’ll be more likely to vote as adults," said Glynis Ross, a fifth grade teacher at Parks Elementary in Cleveland.
“By engaging students to participate in the voting process early, we believe they will continue to vote as adults,” said Hosemann. “Our goal is to increase voter participation, regardless of age. The more familiar an individual is with the voting process, the more likely they will return to the voting booth in the future.”
Tightly aligned with the Mississippi Social Studies Framework and developed in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Education, Promote The Vote's curriculum consists of voter education lesson plans and activities developmentally appropriate and unique to each grade level.
Ross said that every year she teaches her students about the electoral process; including the branches of the government and the tasks of each branches and the different parties and what divides them.
"These lessons are engaging, collaborative, and help develop civic mindedness and critical thinking skills in students, which are some of the goals of the 2011 Mississippi Social Studies Framework," said Nathan Oakley, bureau director of the Office of Curriculum and Instruction for the Mississippi Department of Education.
Other participating schools in Bolivar County were Bell Academy grades K-6 with sponsor Debbie Fioranelli; Shelby Broad Street High School grades 9-12 under sponsor Stephanie Thomas; Benoit's Brooks Elementary School grade 2-4 under sponsor Cody Shumaker; Cleveland Career Development & Technology Center under sponsor Equonda Jackson, Cleveland High School 12th grade under sponsor Glena Weeks; D.M. Smith Middle School grades 7-8 under sponsor Karen Fioranelli; East Side High grades 9-12 under sponsor Karen Fioranelli; Hayes Cooper Center grades K-6 under sponsor Beverly Hardy; John F. Kennedy High School grades 9-12 under sponsor Aneika Moore; Pearman Elementary grades 4-5 under sponsor Horace McKay; Presbyterian Day School grades 1-6 under sponsor Diane Burd; Benoit's Ray Brooks School grades 9-12 under sponsor Arlander McCarthy; Shaw High School grade 9-12 under sponsor L'Kenna Whitehead; and West Bolivar Elementary grades K-4 under sponsor W. Shepard-Williams.
Ninth-12 graders at Ruleville Central High School under sponsor Jerry Walker also participated in the program.