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Utah students choose Bush

Huntsman also wins in state’s mock election

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Utah students have spoken. Results from Utah's Mock Election show students favor George Bush for president and Jon Huntsman Jr. for governor.

Nearly 27,000 students participated in Utah's Mock Election on Tuesday. Kindergarten through 12th-grade students in more than 100 schools statewide voted for Senate, Congress and gubernatorial and presidential candidates.

Students also voted on which of four issues concern them most: the U.S. economy, education, health care and homeland security. Health care, education and homeland security were nearly neck and neck for students' top issue.

"It is encouraging to see so many young people actively participating in the election process," said Lt. Gov. Gayle McKeachnie. "I am optimistic that the students involved in programs like Utah's Mock Election will develop into informed and engaged citizens."

Utah's Mock Election is put on by the Utah Civic Education Partnership, which includes organizations such as the State Office of Education, Deseret Morning News Newspapers in Education, Davis School District and the Lieutenant Governor's Office. And the project is part of the National Student/Parent Mock Election project funded by the U.S. Congress through the Department of Education.

It is not a scientific sampling and cannot be used as an accurate prediction of real election results.

Norma Jean Remington, chairwoman of the partnership, said the main purpose of the mock election is to bring about the democratic process at a student level.

"We do it in hopes that they become engaged citizens and young people and transfer that to adult engagement," said Remington. "Also, kids and adults dialogue, and therefore not only does the student vote in the mock election, but it is the hope that the parents will take the initiative to vote in the general election."

The Utah Mock Election committee designed a curriculum and provides resources for educators to teach students about the voting process.

Materials are age-appropriate. Remington said early elementary students may have learned about donkeys and elephants, while high school students learned the path to the polls.

Though this was a statewide project, a handful of schools and districts have held their own mock elections this fall.

On Wednesday, Salt Lake City School District also announced results from an election held among its four high schools and Judge Memorial Catholic High School.

Unlike the state election, John Kerry won with 54 percent, compared to Bush's 35 percent. And Scott Matheson garnered 66 percent of the gubernatorial vote, Huntsman 33 percent. Nearly 4,000 students participated in Salt Lake District's mock election.

Overall the point is to teach the process, not just get the results, said Remington. Students need to learn that voting gives them a voice, and that voice makes a difference.

"I saw it as a big opportunity to let students have a voice — there is not a lot of attention to what kids think involving politics," said Joe Burg, a student at West High. "It was a chance to show my support for my candidates and give others the same opportunity."

Utah totals will join national Student Mock Elections totals, and those results will be out later this week.

A list of participating schools and additional election results are available online at www.mockelection.utah.gov.

E-mail: terickson@desnews.com