“I was terrified, and I don’t want any young voter to feel that,” said Mills. She hoped the mock voting day would not only ease the fear of voting for the first time, but instill a passion for electoral participation, too.
Voting is “not only a wonderful opportunity to mold our country in the way that we want, but also a responsibility,” Mills added.
Some of the students had already campaigned for president in a mock election in the cooperative’s junior high elections class. Amanda Eltzeroth, a Kokomo 12-year-old, won six votes out of the class of 10 running as the Democratic party candidate.
But she’d never seen electronic voting machines before.
“I think it will be interesting to use the actual machines,” Amanda said before her turn came to vote. They were completely different from the paper ballots her parents have used to vote in Kokomo, she explained.
When she keyed in her computer-generated PIN number that pulled up her class’s ballot on the voting machine, she was surprised to see her own name in the running for prettiest eyes.
She decided instead to vote for her friend Ashlin Day, a 13-year-old from Lucerne.
Ashlin’s older brother, Josh Day, was the only registered voter in the group of home-schooled students. He turns 18 just four days before the Nov. 6 election, and said Wednesday’s field trip was the first time he had seen the electronic voting machines he’ll use on Election Day.
“I’ve been told this will be the most important election I’ll vote in,” said Josh. “It’s neat, in a way.”
He added that he expects to be a little nervous when the time comes to really vote.
“Hopefully I won’t mess up,” Josh said.
For the rest, the day allowed them to ask Liming about the voting process, the machines and anything else they wanted to know.
“It’s a learning experience for me, too,” Liming said of the mock election. “It’s been fun to help the younger generation walk away with something.”
• Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.