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Students reflect on issues at Science Hill mock election

Brandon Paykamian • Oct 30, 2018 at 11:07 PM

Most high schoolers aren’t old enough to vote, but that hasn’t kept them from thinking about the issues facing the country today.

On Tuesday, Science Hill High School students participated in a mock election ahead of the Nov. 6 elections. They were particularly interested in the gubernatorial election between Republican candidate Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean and the Senate election between Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

For seniors Nic Bushell, Nick Jordan and Maggie Holmes, each 17, some of the major issues they took into consideration when voting included climate change and environmental issues.

“I definitely think the environment is something that needs to be a part of politics more because that’s the world that we’re going to live in,” Bushell said.

“Politics don’t matter without the environment. We all got to live somewhere,” Jordan chimed in.

Despite Lee being relatively silent on environmentalism, Bushell said he would vote for Lee after considering all of the issues.

“I voted Bill Lee. I’ve heard some good things about him, and I think my views would align more with him than the other candidate,” he said.

Jordan, on the other hand, did not disclose who he voted for, but he also brought up environmental issues in his electoral decisions. He said he is opposed to the current environmental stances of the Republican Party under President Donald Trump.

“I typically vote independently, but Donald Trump’s issues with the coal industry always get me going,” he said.

Holmes agreed that climate change will be a pivotal issue in the years to come, but she chose to vote for Bredesen due to her positions on women’s rights and immigration.

“I’m more for opening immigration because I think it makes the country better if we have more of a diverse culture. I’ve always been told this is the melting pot of cultures,” she said.

“I really care about climate change, but I also care a lot about abortion,” she continued. “I am a strong believer in having control over your own body instead of having the government say, ‘You can’t have an abortion, even if it might save your life.’ It’s a major issue for me.”

Jessica Schiwitz, a government teacher and sponsor of Rho Kappa, the social studies honor society, said the event was first promoted by the secretary of state’s office to promote civic engagement during the 2016 presidential election. The event drew participation from 165,968 students and 479 schools across the state.

“In 2016, we did a mock presidential election, and the results statewide from the students were very close to the way adults in the state voted,” Schiwitz said.

“It gives them an idea of how people are voting right now and how they’re going to vote next Tuesday,” American history instructor Kayla Wilson added.

Here are the results from Science Hill’s mock election:

Governor:

• Bill Lee: 60 percent

• Karl Dean: 40 percent 

Senate:

• Phil Bredesen: 52 percent 

• Marsha Blackburn: 48 percent

U.S. House (TN-1):

• Phil Roe: 56 percent 

• Marty Olsen: 33 percent

• Michael Salyer: 11 percent 

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