Marshall High mock election mirrors real one

MARSHALL — One vote really can make a difference in an election as Marshall High School students and staff recently found out after taking part in a mock election process.

While one race was determined by a single vote, the overall outcomes basically mirrored actual results from Election Day on Tuesday.

For the school-wide effort, 310 people voted, which represented about a third of the population.

“Students and staff were offered the opportunity to vote for three races: governor and the two U.S. Senate races,” said Rick Purrington, MHS social studies teacher and Honor Society adviser. “Ashtyn Eben was the MHS Honor Society student who led the committee in organizing the election. I know that Amy Klobuchar won by a large margin, Tim Walz by a small margin and Tina Smith won by a single vote.”

Eben said at least 20 Honor Society students from MHS helped out with the planning, set-up and voting process.

“It takes a lot to get over 300 people through the voting process within one hour, especially since we wanted to compare results between grades,” she said. “Overall, I thought the event went better than expected. Our plan to have separate results for each grade made the event more difficult to organize, but we didn’t run into any trouble over the lunch hour. There were definitely some things that could have gone smoother, but I am happy with how it turned out.”

Amy Klobuchar won the mock election 172-93, with students in grades 11 and 12 along with the staff having the largest differential of support. Eleventh- graders voted 53-27 in Klobuchar’s favor, followed by 12th-graders (47-15) and staff (28-6).

Ninth-grade students were split with 25 votes going to both Klobuchar and Jim Newberger. Tenth- graders supported Newberger with 29 votes to Klobuchar’s 19. Forty-one votes went to other candidates in the Senate race.

In reality, Klobuchar garnered 60 percent of the Minnesota vote to claim the seat once again.

Smith won the second Senate race after picking up nearly 53 percent of the Minnesota vote in the midterm elections. Republican Karin Housley received just over 42 percent of the vote.

At MHS, the mock election race was much closer as 125 voted in favor of Smith compared to 124 for Housley. Sixty-seven votes were cast between the other candidates on the ballot.

Along with staff, 10th- and 11th-graders cast an equal number of votes for the top two candidates. Ninth-grade students were 18-17 in favor of Housley, but 12th-graders were 32-30 in favor of Smith.

Only eight votes separated Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson in the mock election for Governor. Walz picked up 146 votes compared to Johnson’s 138. Twenty-five votes were distributed between the other candidates in the race.

Ninth- and 10th-graders tipped the scales in favor of Johnson, while the upperclassmen and staff voted more in favor of Walz.

In reality, the Democratic team of Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan collected nearly 54 percent of the Minnesota vote compared to just over 42 percent for Johnson and Donna Bergstrom.

Along with Eben, Trey Weber and Ammran Mohammed served as committee chairs for the mock event.

“We did a lot of scheduling and delegating of tasks,” Eben said. “Daniel Van Keulen actually created a program to help us tally votes. It cut the time required to count ballots in half.”

While the voting opportunity was significant, Eben said another aspect that was incorporated beforehand was to provide information to potential voters at MHS.

“Because it is important for voting citizens to be informed about candidates, we had students around the school submit videos to show each class, detailing the different races,” she said.

After the voting was completed, Purrington said the MHS results for the governor race were submitted to the Minnesota Secretary of State office.

“That’s the only race the SOS office sponsored across the state,” he said.