Lezlie Sterling / lsterling@sacbee.com

Angie Cha, foreground, joins other Grant Union High School students in voting booths Friday as they filled out real California ballots. Results of the mock election are expected Monday.

Grant High students cast ballots in mock election

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

Students got their first taste of a democratic election Friday morning at Grant Union High School.

Over 200 high school seniors voted in a mock election organized by the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters.

"We've taken the mystery out of voting," said Debra Woods, outreach coordinator for the Registrar of Voters.

Many students were giddy as they lined up to cast their ballots inside the school's Little Theatre.

"I'm going to vote for Obama," said Haider Ali, who, as an 18-year-old, will also have a chance to vote in the real election come November.

On the other end, Ali's classmate, Roemello Neal, said he no longer knew how he would vote.

"My opinions shifted after the debate. It feels iffy voting for Obama," the 17-year-old said.

Everything at the mock polling station was real, from the ballot to the ballot reader. By Monday, the votes should be tallied and the results available.

"It's a real voting experience," said Woods, a Citrus Heights resident who has worked for county elections for 17 years.

The high school mock elections started in 2005 at four schools but has since grown to 10 schools in the county.

Nationwide, youths have always been underrepresented during elections. In Sacramento County, 54 percent of eligible voters ages 18 to 24 are registered, according to UC Davis research. That's the best showing in the state.

"So many young people aren't interested in politics these days," said Mary Toutonghi, who was helping register voters at the mock election.

Her goal: to give young people a voice.

"If we can register at least one voter today, I'll be happy," she said.

That sentiment – to get young people civically engaged – was echoed by Chris Shepherd, an American government teacher at Grant High.

Shepherd discussed the election – from the numerous propositions to the presidential candidates – with his classes before they went in to cast their votes on Friday.

"My No. 1 goal is to give my students civic virtue, so that when they turn 18, they will vote and participate in this democracy," he said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Richard Chang



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