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Mock elections gauges students’ view

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, October 27, 2004

With the presidential election less than a week away, the Notre Dame campus will have the chance to see where students stand on the candidates in Tuesday’s Mock Election.Several student media groups will sponsor the event, including NDTV, WFVI, WSND and Scholastic magazine. Results and election statistics will be released Thursday.According to Melinda Leonard, an NDTV news producer, the mock election is designed to produce as accurate a demographic picture of the student body as possible. “The turnout at other campus events has been slightly skewed to a particular party, so we are hoping that this will provide an accurate picture of the student body’s political leanings,” Leonard said. Bob Franken, student print media coordinator, said the election also acts as a type of poll. “It’s as much of a survey as it is an election,” Franken said. “We’re going to try to gauge political sentiment on campus.”In order to make the election as representative of Notre Dame as possible, the ballot does not mirror that of any one state. “We didn’t just want to replicate the Indiana ballot, since this is a national university.” Franken said. “Nader, Bush and Kerry had to be on the ballot, and we added Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik, since he is on most ballots across the nation.In addition to presidential candidates, the ballot also included questions on graduating class, gender and college. These results will be compared with voting preference and sorted for trends. “We’re going to determine if there are any patterns of voting based on gender, college and [graduating] class.” Leonard said.While not the first student run election on campus, this year’s mock election marks the first one run in recent years.”We had a student media retreat with all of the organizations, and we were brainstorming ideas of things we could all do together, and everyone thought this was a natural thing to do.” Franken said. “Student media should run the event, considering how much real media is involved in polling and election coverage.”Student reaction to the mock election was mixed. Many students felt that the election would not produce a true reflection of political opinion at Notre Dame.Notre Dame law student Tom Mitchell supported the election but questioned the forthcoming results. “I’m not sure that the people voting in the mock election are representative of voters as a whole. The willingness to go vote in a mock election is already self selecting for people with a much greater level of political participation.” Mitchell said. “I think it’s a good idea, I just have some reservations about it.”Sophomore Patrick Wood expressed a similar concern about the success of the mock election. “I think most people here are too apathetic, even in this election, to get involved,” he said. Laurie McFadden, coordinator of broadcast media, agreed in part with the student concerns on apathy, citing voter apathy as the biggest problem. “I think that the freshman reading assignment [The Vanishing Voter] is a good description of what’s happening here,” she said. Other students said they felt the mock election would increase political interest on campus. Junior Tyler Wilson said the sight of students voting would help encourage others to cast a vote. “I think it will show that the students at Notre Dame do care about national elections, and they should go along with their peers and participate … hopefully, it will motivate students to really show an interest in this election.”