Kerry wins (at Summit High School) |

Kerry wins (at Summit High School)

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Summit High tenth grader Rochelle Wilson, left, registers fellow sophomore Tara Kelley (green) to vote in a mock election at the high school Tuesday afternoon.

FARMER’S KORNER – Senator John Kerry would be the next president of the United States if Summit High School students had their way.During the school’s first mock election, students picked Kerry for president, Ken Salazar for U.S. Senate, voted against Colorado Amendment 36 and strongly supported Measures 3A and 3B.”I thought Bush made some bad decisions during his term – the war, how the economy is going and the debt we’re in,” said freshman Taylor Miller.The SHS Student Senate worked with social studies teacher Ann Turiano Sykes to coordinate Tuesday’s mock election as a dress rehearsal for future elections when the students are old enough to cast real ballots.

“I hope it inspires them to go out and vote,” said sophomore student senator Chelsea Seegers. “If you start doing this when you’re young, it becomes a habit you’ll hopefully continue.”The Student Senate created an abbreviated version of the actual Summit County ballot, conducted an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign and devised an election process that would be fair and fraud-proof.Turiano Sykes said the experience’s value as a civics drill was matched by its educational value for teens forming their views on the world around them.”When they came up and voted, you’d see them walk off, engaging in these in-depth, political discussions,” Turiano Sykes said. “If they’re going to be involved in an election, even a mock election, it helps them become more informed about the issues of our time.”

The margins by which the students made their selections on the mock ballots bore close resemblance to the political leanings of Summit County’s voter population.Fifty-four percent of SHS students voted for Kerry, compared to 59 percent of Summit County voters; 36 percent of students voted for Bush, while 39 percent of local voters supported the President’s re-election.A 63 percent majority of students supported both Summit School District’s Measures 3A and 3B, while Summit County voters approved the measures by 63 percent and 60 percent, respectively.Voter turnout in the mock election was 55 percent.

“I already knew Kerry was going to win in this school, so I thought it was pointless to vote, because I’m a Bush supporter,” said junior Alli Helmer.Students made a political departure from local voters’ views by casting a far greater percentage of ballots for third-party candidates, including independent Ralph Nader, who received 6 percent of the student vote, compared to 1 percent of the local adult vote. Other third-party candidates earned 3 percent of the students’ support.”I voted Green,” said Tyler Burris, a sophomore. “I like a lot of their beliefs, like supporting peace and taking us out of the war in Iraq.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at

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