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FHSU students select Obama in mock election

3/28/2012

By CARLEIGH ALBERS

Special to The Hays Daily News

President Barack Obama earned 40 percent of the vote in a first-place finish in Fort Hays State University students' recent mock presidential election.

On Feb. 29, the American Democracy Project at FHSU conducted a mock election for students to determine their choices of candidates in November's presidential election.

Voting took place online through the student program TigerTracks. Students could use their own computers or one set up in Memorial Union.

Jen Verhagen, student coordinator of the American Democracy Project, said voter turnout was small.

"We learned a lot about this election," Verhagen said. "A lot of people weren't aware or just didn't care."

Coming in second was Ron Paul with 30 percent, third was Mitt Romney with 14 percent, fourth was Rick Santorum with 9 percent, and write-in candidate Buddy Roemer received 2 percent.

According to Verhagen, the purpose of the student-led project is to promote democracy and engage students.

"Students can start learning about the election, and they can learn what's going on early instead of waiting," Verhagen said.

The American Democracy Project not only hosts mock elections but also puts on other events such as the Ben Franklin Papers, Civic Engagement Week, Constitution Day and eCitizenship.

There also are links to register to vote on the organization's website, www.fhsu.edu/adp.

The group strives to improve civic engagement, which, according to the website, "means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference."

Whether the students are educated enough is a matter of personal opinion.

"I think it's individual about whether or not students want to be educated," Verhagen said. "Some people are apathetic about it, and some were just unaware about the candidates. We're providing the resources so that they can get educated. I feel that as the months go on, students will start getting more educated about what's going on."

She said the ADP website is updated at least once a week. The project also has incorporated other online social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

As for the future, Verhagen is hopeful for a larger voter turnout for the next mock election.

"We have one planned and ready ... on April 19. It's going to be bigger. Hopefully more students are involved."

Carleigh Albers, a Smolan freshman, is a student at Fort Hays State University majoring in communication studies with an emphasis in journalism.