Students at Santa Monica High School cast their votes in a “mock election” on “Super Tuesday,” February 5, voting for president only.
The election was organized by the collaborative efforts of the Santa Monica High School ASB (Associated Student Body) and SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship), an international program where students are allowed to compete in areas of business and social ventures.
Anita Kemp, a SAGE instructor, explained that SAGE students are asssigned civic engagement projects or civic activities – one of which was this, Samohi’s second venture into the election process (the first time was the 2006 presidential election).
“I feel that this is really a wonderful oportunity to inspire young people to be part of the political process,” said Kemp. “We need to inspire people, especially our youth, to become a new generation of voters. If we don’t start now in school, when do we do that?”
Kemp added that the students on the voting team were trained by volunteers from the League of Women Voters (who also helped out at the tables), and that they were hoping for a turnout of about 500 students. (442 students actually voted).
Before the polls opened at 12:30 p.m., students were already lining up at the tables outside Barnum Hall. When Kemp told them to “come back in 15 minutes,” one student was heard to say, “We’re really excited to be voting!”
After the polls opened, with a mix of current dance and classic R&B tunes on the PA system as background music, students crowded around the four tables designated for each grade.
“Hello Samohi!” was the sound heard from a megaphone. “Come on over and vote! All you seniors, juniors – come and vote!”
The voice behind the megaphone was Nicholas Borenstein, a 17-year-old senior and Speaker of the House for Samohi’s ASB. As one of the organizers, Borenstein was having a busy day, but took a few minutes off to tell the Mirror about his work.
“I’m feeling very politically active this year,” said Borenstein. “Myself and another student, Chandini Gaur, put this thing together to get our high school educated and motivated about the whole election process.”
Asked if he thought this year was more exciting in terms of unprecedented choices, Borenstein replied: “It is very true that this is a year of change, especially in Santa Monica, which is such a liberal society and community. A lot of us are Democrats and are looking at the Democratic frontrunners – an African-American man and a woman – and are really excited about the change to come.”
Blake Rosado, a 17-year-old senior and voting team leader from the SAGE program, joined SAGE after Kemp spotted his potential when he was in her finance class. The mock election was one of his civic engagement projects.
“I wasn’t sure if kids were going to be excited enough to turn out and vote, but as of today I was pleasantly shocked because we’ve had a high turnout so far and people seem to be really involved in voting.
“I have a feeling that Obama is going to get a lot of votes,” he mused.
Stephanie Farzam, a 14-year-old freshman, believed herself to be the “only one who’s voting Republican. There’s been a lot of pressure for me to become liberal. Everybody’s voting for Obama. I think it’s mostly California – this is a Democratic state.” But she added: “I’d vote for Hillary just to vote for a woman.”
By 6 p.m. the votes had been tabulated. Final results: