The (young) people have spoken: four more years.
School 10 in Belleville held a mock election Tuesday to register their choice for president, and it was no contest. By a margin of 147 to 57, President Barack Obama bested Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to a tally reported by none other than the Essex County Clerk, Chris Durkin.
Durkin was at the school offering a hands-on lesson in participatory democracy to the kindergarten-through-sixth graders, who received sample ballots that largely resembled the real thing, except for the candidates. Along with president, the kids also voted -- using an actual county voting machine -- on their favorite musical artist, meal, sports team and academic subject.
Near the end of the school day Tuesday, Durkin got on the PA and read the results to the enthusiastic votership.
“The kids get so excited. I can hear them scream over the PA when I read their choices,” Durkin said.
Durkin regularly visits county grade schools to introduce kids to the basic right of a United States citizen. During a brief lesson Tuesday morning, before the children entered the booth, Durkin explained to them that he was hoping to instill a lifelong habit.
‘When you turn in 18, I want you to vote in every election,” Durkin said.
At what proved to be a hint of the result Tuesday, the students exclaimed when Durkin told them he had met Obama a few times when he was first running for president. He also told them a moving story about an elderly woman --she was a young girl when the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was passed nearly a century ago -- who had voted in every election during her lifetime. Even when she became bedridden in a hospice, she insisted on exercising that hard-won right once again.
During a question-and-answer, the students asked Durkin about the mechanics of voting and also demonstrated a fairly sophisticated understanding of democracy. Asked why voting was important, one young lady responded it was because the government can tax the people -- precisely the issue that fomented the American Revolution.
Another girl, a third-grader, asked one of those out-of-the-mouths-of-babes questions that can often fluster a grownup.
“Why can’t kids vote? It seems so simple.”
Explaining that there were laws setting voting age, Durkin also said, “I don’t know. Maybe you could do better than us.”
For the record, the kids of School 10 also overwhelmingly favor gym over any other subject; picked Usher over Rihanna, Taylor Swift, One Direction and Katy Perry; voted for the New York Giants and Yankees (the Mets getting a paltry 9 votes); and pizza as hands-down their favorite food.