In a Hockinson Middle School eighth-grade home room class, about 20 teens had a debate on Friday on a topic that may sound familiar.
Donald Trump is only in the race for his business interests.
Hillary Clinton isn’t trustworthy.
Neither candidate is right for our country.
School-wide, students debated their options and cast votes in a mock election for president, as well as state and local races, as a part of Kids Vote 2016.
“It’s cool that we get to put our opinion and have our opinion be out there,” 13-year-old Jared Rieck said as he pursued his ballot on his school-issued iPad. “It may not be real, but we get to vent it.”
The program, now in its third election, is organized by Bridget Schwarz, president of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Association.
Schwarz is a political wonk in her own right, an active organizer of political forums and frequent audience member of other government meetings. But she organized Kids Vote in 2012, in 2014 and now in the ugliest election season in recent history in order to share the importance of participating with Clark County children.
• Clark County students can vote through 8 p.m. Tuesday by visiting KidsVote2016.com. The website includes the SurveyMonkey ballot, information about the candidates and ballot measures, and a copy of the Washington State Voters’ Pamphlet.
“I’m thinking kids need to have a voice,” she said.
The ballot is conducted through a SurveyMonkey poll on KidsVote2016.com, and students’ “precincts” — small voting districts — are their schools. After polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Schwarz will run a report of the results.
It’s a significant technological update from when Schwarz cast her first vote. She was a child in 1960 when she voted for John F. Kennedy in a mock election.
“I voted for president when I was 8 years old, and I never forgot how important I was told that is,” she said.
Hockinson Middle School Principal Brian Lehner said students have been going through the ballot and learning about the candidates for various offices. Voting was “another thing we can add” to the students’ learning in this heated presidential year, he said.
“Anything we can do to get the kids involved at an earlier age,” he said. “It just makes sense.”
And the students’ thoughts — perhaps from hearing their parents talk about the race, or perhaps from their own conclusions about the race — reflected the national discourse.
A conflicted Nikki Hill, 14, was leaning toward Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as she filled out her ballot. But she wasn’t excited about it, citing concern over Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
“Donald Trump … isn’t in it for our country,” Nikki said. “Hillary Clinton, she knows what to do, but she is still sketchy.”
Hill’s friend, 13-year-old Gurvir Gill, echoed her classmate’s concerns.
“I feel like we’re kind of doomed both ways,” Gurvir said. “I wouldn’t really vote.”
For Rieck, however, the choice was clear. The eighth-grader cast his mock presidential vote for Republican Donald Trump.
“I feel like Hillary has been caught in too many lies to be trusted,” he said.