Unaka High School held mock election on Tuesday 

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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A mock election was held for students at Unaka High School on Tuesday.
The event allowed students to cast their votes using real voting machines (provided by the Carter County Election Commission) for candidates that are actually appearing on the ballot (presidential, state and local). After voting in the mock election, students could step to the other side of the room and use computers to cast their votes for student council. 
The school was one of 21 schools to receive Gov. Lee’s Civics Mini-Grant, and one of seven to receive $5,000 to “promote life-long civic engagement.” The grant was applied for by Brooke Boone, U.S. History teacher at the school, to create “We the People” curriculum and create the school’s Junior State of America chapter, which began this year and organized the mock election.
Boone said she wanted students to organize and run the mock election as a way to help promote their civic identity. 
“I think the goal in my mind is that the mock election would prepare students to be informed, thoughtful, engaged citizens, that they would have the opportunity to experience voting, and deepen their knowledge about the electoral process and how they can educate themselves more on issues and candidates prior to elections,” said Boone. 
Like Boone, those in JSA were excited for the mock election and the educational benefits it provided. Here are a few statements officers and members from this student organization provided. These statements include the role they play in JSA, information about it and the mock election, etc. 

Casey Wiggins, JSA President
“I joined JSA specifically for the chance to work on the mock election. When I found out we would be able to plan completely from scratch in our own unique way that just made the opportunity all the better.
As President it has been my job to ensure organization within our election committees and for the sake of efficiency as well. It has also been my job to line up our guest speakers and obtain the use of the voting machines.
It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to speak with senate aids and election officials, not just because it helped us have a great mock election this year, but also because I have my own aspirations for public office. 
We have great students here at Unaka, each with their own unique opinions. This mock election is a chance for them to get out, practice and have these opinions heard. Having the voting machines here has been great for them, because it’s going to prepare them for the day they step into the world of voting for real.” 

Korbin Hale, JSA Treasurer
“I was elected as Treasurer of the JSA for Unaka High School and Ms. Boone brought up the idea of a mock election.
I think it is a great idea to involve students and find out what their opinions are in modern elections and politics.
Because it brings us forward socially and politically as a school and informs the youth of today how voting will be done when they are old enough.” 

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Natalie Stout
“I got involved with the mock election from JSA. JSA (Junior State of America) is a club or organization that helps high school students, like me, gain leadership skills; as well as knowledge for debating and civics. Our JSA club decided it would be nice to have a mock election because it gives students an opportunity to see what voting is actually like. It also lets students put out their opinions. Even though teenagers are unable to vote, the mock election allows them to vote for the experience. 
The role I play in the mock election is decorator. I have made signs and posters showing that we will be having the mock election. I want students to experience it. So therefore I am advertising it throughout the school. 
My thoughts on the mock election are very comprehensive. I think that the mock election is a great idea as well as an opportunity. Teenagers aren’t taught how to vote. The mock election allows them to get the experience of voting so that they have an idea of how it will be when they turn of age. 
The mock election is an important event for Unaka High School because a majority of the students throughout the school haven’t the slightest idea on how voting actually works. The mock election would be an amazing opportunity for them to find out, and get to experience how it feels. The last presidential election only 55% of Americans voted. With that being said nearly half of the Americans did not vote. The mock election would show students today that voting is a good thing that isn’t complicated. The more students that get the experience of voting before turning 18 are more likely to vote rather than if they weren’t shown how to. Also with the advertising of the mock election there are reasoning for why we should vote. Giving the students information on why they should vote also leads to more voting in the future because many Americans in today’s society think that voting is unnecessary. When in reality every vote means something. A few extra people voting could make a huge difference. The mock election informs the students that their votes matter. That way when they turn 18 they are more likely to vote.” 
Faculty shared similar views regarding the event’s importance. 

Mr. Wes Wright, Assistant Principal
“I think educating young students who will be adults very soon about the importance of being an informed voter and casting their ballot is an important part of making our students career ready citizens.” 

Mr. Jason Ward, English and Government Teacher (on the importance of Student Council)
“It is vitally important that we allow our students to experience voting for a representative on even a low level. It prepares them for the responsibilities of being participatory citizens as adults and is vital to keeping our nation’s democratic norms strong.” 
The event took place during lunch, and all students (in-person) were encouraged to participate. While unable to participate in the mock election, virtual students were welcome to cast their votes digitally for student council.