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DHS and Trinity voted overwhelmingly for Trump in high school mock elections

Donald Trump dominated the high school vote across town in both Dickinson High School's and Trinity's mock elections. Last Tuesday Dickinson High School administered copies of a real ballot to all of its students during first period. Out of the 7...

Alexa Walby, a sophomore at Trinity High School, fills out her ballet during mock elections Monday at school. (Linda Sailer / The Dickinson Press)
Alexa Walby, a sophomore at Trinity High School, fills out her ballet during mock elections Monday at school. (Linda Sailer / The Dickinson Press)

Donald Trump dominated the high school vote across town in both Dickinson High School's and Trinity's mock elections.

Last Tuesday Dickinson High School administered copies of a real ballot to all of its students during first period. Out of the 706 students who voted, about 69 percent were in favor of Trump, while 13 percent voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson led the third party candidates carrying 8 percent of the vote.

"I was a little bit surprised in the presidential one," said Brian Ham, head of DHS' social studies department who helped organize and run the mock election. "I thought that since the race is a little bit closer in the media polls... that it would be closer than 69 to 13 percent between Trump and Clinton. That's a pretty big, huge gap."

Trinity invited students to vote in the cafeteria before school Monday morning acting more as a real-life election requiring voters to take the time to come in and vote. They had a 53 percent turnout of students and teachers with 93 percent voting for Trump, 4 percent voting for Clinton and 3 percent voting for Johnson. Because Trinity allowed all students grades 7 to 12 to vote, the school also chose to use an abbreviated ballot including the races for: the president/vice president, governor/lieutenant governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Dickinson City Commission and Measures 4 and 5.

Trinity seniors Riley Decker and Shawn Stoltz are both 18 and eligible to vote in their first election this year.

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"I think it's kind of neat that it's going to be a really close one, I think," Decker said. "Your vote matters this time. It's not going to be a wash-out."

Stoltz said students his age were engaged in the election noting the influence social media has played on the election.

"They're excited that they don't have to just stand by and watch," Stoltz said. "This might be the biggest decision of their life. They don't want to just stand by and watch it happen."

Carter Fong, chair of the social studies department at Trinity and election organizer, said Trinity has held these mock elections for years.

"We believe it's important to fulfill your civic duty and participate and become informed on many of the issues," Fong said. "The bottom line is we live in a free country where we rely on our citizens to cast their vote and let their opinions be known, and this is their opportunity to do it."

Students vote Republican overwhelmingly

Dickinson High School voted overwhelmingly Republican in the other federal races as well with incumbent Sen. John Hoeven winning 79 percent of the vote followed by his democratic contender Eliot Glassheim earning 9 percent of the vote. The students also favored incumbent Congressman Kevin Cramer earning 74 percent of the vote compared with his democratic opponent Chase Iron Eyes, who earned 14 percent.

At Trinity, 93 percent of the voters voted for Hoeven while 6 percent voted for Glassheim. Cramer also was a favorite garnering 90 percent of the vote followed by libertarian candidate Jack Seaman with 6 percent of the vote and Iron Eyes earning 4 percent.

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DHS' student body also favored Republican Doug Burgum for governor garnering 68 percent of the vote to democratic contender Marvin Nelson's 19 percent. Seventy percent of Trinity students voted for Burgum with 25 percent backing Nelson.

The Stark County Commission races were closer. DHS voted for incumbent Pete Kuntz (53 percent) over Clarence Tuhy (46 percent) for the district 1 seat. John Frank defeated Dean Franchuk, 62 percent and 36 percent respectively, for the district 3 contest. In district 5, the students favored incumbent Jay Elkin to Leslie Ross 62 percent to 36 percent respectively.

For the open seat on city commission, DHS voted for Jason Fridrich (60 percent) over Peggy O'Brien (38 percent). Trinity voted overwhelmingly (95 percent) for Fridrich over O'Brien (5 percent).

Bringing issues to the classroom

Trinity senior Beth Berger said her vote regarding the president was easier because she was looking for a candidate who would protect the right to life. She said they had discussed the election in class.

"If you don't have life, the other issues don't matter so that was definitely at the top of the list," Berger said. "We touched a little bit on the presidents, but for the most part, everybody already had their opinions formed before class. We discussed the presidential debates a little bit-who won the debates, that was always the hot question."

DHS social studies teacher and city commissioner Sarah Jennings said that, as an elected official, she tries to bring issues from the city into the classroom to discuss with her students and to spread some awareness of the things going on around them in their local government.

"I always try to give real-life scenarios when teaching because I think the kids grasp that a little better than maybe something from a book," Jennings said. "I do my best to try to help them understand what we actually do because when you ask a kid do they know what their city government does, a lot of them don't know. So it's important, and I think that by having someone in there that has a little practice in the area it allows them to see a different side of government."

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Gregg Grinsteinner, a math teacher at Trinity, said the debates soured some of the upperclassmen who felt the candidates treated each other poorly.

"They are like everybody else," he said. "There's a lot of angst, there's a lot of unknown as to what is going to happen because there's been more mudslinging in the lead up to this election than probably ever before, so the kids don't really know what to expect."

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOL
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