Mock election simulates student experience at polls

Nearly 180 students voted in yesterday’s mock gubernatorial election aimed at increasing voter turnout at the polls when Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Steve Beshear face off this November.

Fletcher received 104 votes while 75 students voted for Beshear at UK’s second-ever mock election, sponsored by Student Government and the office of the Kentucky Secretary of State.

Les Fugate, deputy assistant secretary of state, said the event was part of Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s civic literacy initiative and a way to get college students to pay attention to voting issues.

“In college there are a lot of demands and sometimes we forget about things outside our collegiate bubble, like elections,” Fugate said. “Hopefully this will draw more attention.”

Yesterday’s mock election was one of a series of political activities, including the forum and a letter writing campaign, hosted by SG. Taylor Gerlach, student lobbyist corps co-chair, said the mock election was another part of SG’s goal to get students more politically involved.

“This fits in well with the other activities,” Gerlach said. “It lets people know about the upcoming election, and we had around 30 people register (to vote) today.”

The election was a great way to promote awareness of the election, said Nate Simon, SG’s deputy chief of staff for policy.

“Each activity works together to promote the election and promote the idea that students are an important part of the political process,” Simon said.

UK was one of six Kentucky universities holding a mock election yesterday. Two of the schools’ results will not be available until Monday. UK had the second highest turnout of the four schools whose results are in, coming in behind Northern Kentucky University, which had 196 students vote. Western Kentucky University had 124 and Murray State University had 77.

Drew Trimble, a political science and communications junior, voted at the mock election and said UK is doing a good job in promoting political involvement.

“I think in general, there is a little apathy everywhere,” Trimble said. “UK is doing a lot of work to get people excited about this.”

The election featured the same type of voting booth that voters will use in the real election.

“It’s a great experience to get a little practice,” Trimble said. “Us being able to use them (the voting booths) here hopefully motivates us to use them in the real elections.”

The voting booth also makes students more comfortable with the idea of voting, Fugate said.

“It takes away the mystique of voting,” Fugate said. “Any new voter may be intimidated by the equipment. Using the machines may break down some barriers and increase participation.”

Though UK did not have the highest turnout of students, Simon said he thought the event was a success.

“I feel that comparatively we did a good job,” Simon said. “The promotion of the election is a benefit. It all adds together to remind people.”