Nashua students cast ballots in N.H. mock election

NASHUA – Nine-year-old Erica Rosher thinks Ralph Nader should be the next president of the United States.

The fourth-grader at Ledge Street Elementary School cast her ballot for Nader during the school’s mock election Wednesday because she doesn’t agree with the war in Iraq.

“He wanted to take all the soldiers out of the war and he didn’t want to go to war in the first place,” Erica said of why she voted for Nader.

Unfortunately for Erica, most of her peers in New Hampshire didn’t agree.

The elementary students were participating in the National Student/Parent Mock Election program, which allows elementary, middle and high school students across the country to decide who they want their leaders to be.

This year, kids from almost 200 schools participated in the 24-year-old program. New Hampshire Public Television tallied the results from schools across the state and announced the winners Wednesday night.

Democrat John Kerry edged President Bush by just 20 votes out of more than 41,000 cast in the state, though results may not have come in from all participating schools Wednesday night.

The students also chose four Republican incumbents: Gov. Craig Benson, Sen. Judd Gregg, and Reps. Charles Bass and Jeb. Bradley.

If this mock election is anything like the ones in recent years, New Hampshire students just may have predicted next week’s actual winners.

In 2002, New Hampshire students correctly picked Benson, Bradley and Bass.

Back at Ledge Street on Wednesday afternoon, Erica and 9-year-old Gregory Gott sat on the cafeteria stage behind a folding table. As their fellow students walked on stage and cast their votes in actual curtained booths, the pair told them what to do with their ballots.

“You need to fold it, please,” Gregory saidto a student trying to stuff the full-size piece of paper through a small hole in the top of the ballot box.

The boy folded the sheet and crammed it into the nearly full ballot box. Gregory quickly ushered him off the stage to make room for the next voter.

“That way,” Gregory said, pointing toward the stairs.

When students finished voting in the cafeteria, fourth-grade teacher Libby Crocker and her class carried the ballot boxes to her room to count the votes.

Brittney Briere, Samantha Langevin and Maria Amparo helped Crocker cut the presidential and gubernatorial ballots apart and sort them into bins.

“You have an important job and it’s not to lose any of the ballots,” Crocker told the girls as one student dumped the entire contents of a ballot box onto the desk and the floor.

Crocker said she, like most of the other teachers at Ledge Street, involved her class in the mock election with the hope that it would spark an interest in politics in the children.

“It’s a great activity that gets kids excited about their government and how it works,” Crocker said.

Susan Adams, the K-12 coordinator for NHPTV, said the station has been involved with the mock election program for 16 years.

“The more children feel like they’re active in the process . . . the more likely they will be active in the process when they are eligible to vote,” Adams said.

NHPTV hosted a gala Wednesday afternoon, during which phone banks were open and schools from all around the state called in their results.

As the Ledge Street fourth-graders counted their school’s votes, Crocker began to suspect the election would be very close.

“I think it’s going to be really close between Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry,” Crocker said.

She was right: Kerry got 240 votes at Ledge Street, to 204 for Bush.

Maria said she saw a lot of votes for both Bush and Kerry but none for Erica’s pick.

“They never talk about Nader on TV,” Maria said. “Never, never, never.”


These are the statewide results in New Hampshire for the National Student/Parent Mock Election as of 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. Results may not have been reported yet from all participating schools.

John Kerry 19,439
George W. Bush 19,419
Ralph Nader 2,457

Craig Benson 13,779
John Lynch 11,657

Judd Gregg 12,214
Doris Granny D Haddock 8,959

Jeb Bradley 5,768
Justin Nadeau 2,857

Charles Bass 6,257
Paul Hodes 3,134