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The purpose of the Election Simulation is to prepare students in becoming informed voters, for they are fast approaching the legal voting age. The simulation allows for the information about the elections to be more accessible to students, and shared in a manner that they are able to understand. This year, Townsend Harris High School’s seniors are to perform extensive research and role-play candidates from the 2016 Presidential Primaries. Ideally, students should be familiarizing themselves with the issues taking place in the political world, and we should hope that they would vote for a particular candidate in because they truly identify with their platforms and ideas. However, many students are not voting for those legitimate reasons, but rather for personal biases that are associated with the reputation that candidates have as students within the THHS community.
More often than not, I hear people casting their vote simply because they want to support their friend. The truth of the matter is that while the Election Simulation does an excellent job of replicating the advertisements, broadcasts, and debates of the real election, it cannot replicate the candidate. There is only so much we can do to embody the actual candidates; students may dress and play the part, but it is difficult to disregard their individual reputations as Townsend Harris students. One minute they’re Donald Trump or Jeb Bush, and the next minute they’re sitting next to you in your language or math class. Perhaps one candidate performed an act of kindness that you just can’t disregard, or maybe you feel that someone deserves to win because they started with a disadvantage from the other candidates. However, when it comes to voting in the real world, these should not be the factors that sway our votes. One would hope that when choosing our representatives, we cast the vote for the person that we believe will benefit society, and not based on personal biases.
While the winners of the Simulation won’t really affect us in the long run, the results of a real election will. Thus, we must get used to casting a mature and informed vote, which has always been the main intention of the Simulation. It is imperative that we make our decisions based on who we believe will do better job in not only addressing our current issues, but also creating a hopeful path for the future.
It is within our nature to be influenced by our personal impressions and relationships, and it is unrealistic to expect everyone to cast an entirely unbiased vote. What we can do is foster mature voters and perhaps require students to write a reflection piece on the candidate they wish to vote for for their history class. Students can provide an overall description of the candidate, and describe what issues they agree or disagree with. In this way, students can show that they’re informed voters— ready to make an informed decision not only in the Election Simulation, but also in the real world.