BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – Using replicas of the 2016 New York state ballot, Bronxville’s middle and high school students took to the polls this week to "elect" their local, state and federal leaders.
The pre-teens and teens held their mock elections over a two-day period on Monday and Tuesday this week, casting votes for the president, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, state Senate, state Assembly and Westchester County District Attorney, according to a statement from the school district.
“This is one of the most turbulent elections that we’ve had in the history of our country, so it’s very important that everyone was involved and really understood the process and who they voted for,” said Sam Arcano, 18, a senior who was excited to cast a real ballot for the first time.
Arcano said the mock election piqued student interest in the real process, requiring all who participated to learn about the issues before deciding which candidates possessed similar values.
Christina Reidel, a Bronxville social studies teacher, led the mock elections and said they were directly related to lessons she and her colleagues had been teaching in class.
“We’ve been talking about the rights to vote, how they evolved, the responsibilities of voting, what that looks like, how it varies from state to state and some of the controversies around the process,” she said. “Democracy is sometimes messy, but it’s something we’re committed to and it’s important for us to communicate those values to our students.”
George Cooney, a freshman, said the election provided him with a number of valuable lessons.
“It’s really important to vote because so many people before us have sacrificed their lives,” he said. “[The mock election] seemed real because there was a ballot set up and it felt official.”
Will Cioffi, a senior political science student, was among a group to lead lessons on voting at the school district’s elementary school earlier in the week that aimed to generate awareness and inspire the next generation of voters to engage in the process.
“It’s crucial to be exposed to [voting] at such a young age because then you’re more aware of what’s happening,” he said. “You read the news, you become more of an engaged citizen, you become more informed, and you support and vote for the people who you think represent your values and ideals.”