Earlier this month, Western Illinois University staged what’s thought to be the largest student-run mock election even in the nation. WIU’s Mock Presidential Election (MPE), “The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University” was an ADP-sponsored event designed to actively engage students in the political process. You can read the press release from WIU’s University Relations below.
- Jen Domagal-Goldman, ADP National Manager
The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University
MACOMB, IL — It’s official. The next president of the United States will be the incumbent, Barack Obama, according to students participating in Western Illinois University’s Mock Presidential Election (MPE). And in a surprise move for vice president, students voted Joe Biden out and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in.
The fifth and final night of the Mock Presidential Election, known as “The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University,” found early voting bouncing between candidates they nominated from three parties: Democrats for Obama/Clinton, GOP’s ticket Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan and Green Party’s Jill Stein/Kent Mesplay.
Stein, who made it a three-candidate race in the national electorate, kicked-off her actual presidential campaign as a Green Party candidate at the Nov. 7 simulation, addressed the students gathered in Western Hall saying the spirit of democracy was alive and well at Western Illinois University. She challenged students to think of this campaign as a chance to speak up and to vote on their own behalf.
WIU student campaign managers and other leaders in the Democrat and GOP ranks, spoke on behalf of their presidential nominees.
When it came down to states voting, several states deadlocked, and without a declared winner, their electoral votes could not be allowed, said Rick Hardy, MPE executive co-director.
“We would like to thank all of the participants, students, faculty, staff, volunteers and candidates and their spokespersons, for taking part in the 2011 Mock Presidential Election. The collaborative partnerships are what makes an event of this magnitude such a success,” said WIU President Jack Thomas. “Coordinators Rick Hardy and John Hemingway and our students are to be commended for their initiative and hard work in planning, coordinating and organizing this largest student-run mock election event in the nation.”
Hardy added his appreciation for the students who made this event a success.
“I would particularly like to commend the work of the students who were exemplary leaders, especially D’Angelo Taylor (senior, political science major), Cesar Salas (senior, political science, Hoffman Estates, IL), Tucker Copi (senior, political science, Springfield, IL), Jenna Verity (senior, political science, Schaumburg, IL), Caleb Markey (sophomore, finance major, Macomb, IL), Megan Tatro (senior, law enforcement and justice administration major, Rock Island, IL), James Brenner (junior, political science/American government major, Machesney Park, IL) and Wayne Pierce (Chicago),” Hardy noted.
Hardy also echoed President Thomas’ thanks:
“‘The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University'” involved a tremendous University-wide and community effort that deserves great thanks. We cannot thank everyone enough for assisting in this outstanding exercise that is part of the American Democracy Project (ADP)….To all, we say thank you.”
The American Democracy Project is an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) that began in 2003, in partnership with The New York Times, focused on higher education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for the our democracy, Hardy added.
STUDENTS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Hardy was quick to acknowledge the many students who worked the mock election, many of whom assisted in ways related directly to their academic fields.
“Broadcasting students reported each night’s event live on wiutv3, journalism students wrote editorials and news copy (http://control–shift.blogspot.com), the ROTC Color Guard started each session with the presentation of the colors, School of Music singers and the Marching Band participated and many more behind-the-scene students, including recreation, park and tourism administration students who helped with event management, along with academic and honorary organizations, help made this year’s Mock Presidential Election an overwhelming success,” said Hardy. “I know there will be a lot more Western Illinois University students following the 2012 Presidential Election, all the way from state primaries and caucuses to election night coverage; and I believe there will be a lot more WIU students voting in this election.””
ADVICE FROM THE FIELD
Congressman Aaron Schock (Peoria), who, at 30, is the youngest member of the United States Congress, spoke to the students about his journey in politics, beginning as a successful write-in candidate for school board at 19-years old. He was the youngest member elected as an Illinois State Representative in 2004, and the first member of the U.S. Congress to be born in the 1980s.
Shock told the students that serving on the school board, or in the state general assembly, or in Congress, “is a lot like high school. If you show up, do your homework, ask intelligent questions, put forward thoughtful ideas and effort, you will be successful.”
POLITICIANS SUPPORTED MPE
Throughout the five-day Mock Presidential Election, several noted politicians and spokespersons of politicians took the time to come to Macomb to speak to the students simulating America’s election process.
In addition to Schock and Stein, speakers included Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, State Rep. Norine Hammond, State Rep. Mike Boland and presidential candidate Randall Terry. Other representatives included Debra Detmers Fansler, district director for U.S. Rep. John Shimkus; Farheen Hakeem, National Green Party co-chair; and Collin Hitt, senior director of government affairs at the Illinois Policy Institute in Springfield.
For more information about WIU’s Mock Presidential Election, follow this link.