On Tuesday, November 8th, while the nation proceeded to the ballot boxes, Friends Academy students lined up in the Kumar-Wang Library to cast their votes for their favorite presidential candidates.
The Friends Academy Mock Presidential Election was held across the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. Modeled after the Electoral College, FA’s Mock Election strove to mirror the real system as closely as possible in order to increase students' civic awareness. Such efforts are also part of a larger school-wide goal to develop more opportunities to strengthen civil discourse, as Democatic Club Leader Jacob Hutt indicated.
Students were encouraged to complete voter registration prior to Election Day. Those who did not adhere to the registration deadline were deemed ineligible to vote.
One of the first trends school election monitors noticed was the decreasing registration with increasing age. In the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades, only two, seven, and three students did not register and vote, respectively. Less than half of 8th graders registered, but all who did voted. The high school had the lowest registration numbers. Even within the population of registered voters, many students did not vote come Election Day.
Students that didn’t vote have cited a variety of reasons for this—some were absent on Election Day, some forgot to vote, while others did not have the time to go to the voting booth. Senior Connor Febesh demonstrates more ideological reasons for not voting:
“As a libertarian, I felt there was no candidate that fulfilled what I ask for. I understand that it was a mock election, but we treated it like a real one. If I could vote this year, I wouldn’t have anyway. Neither Clinton, nor Trump, nor Johnson were appealing enough for me. I’d rather leave the decision up to my peers,” said Febesh.
Jackie Walzer ('17) also expressed more ideological explanations for the non-voting phenomenon: “I think that some conservatives didn’t vote because many of them have a preconceived notion that since our school is predominantly liberal, their vote wouldn’t have really mattered.”
Voters were also grouped by advisory, each of which represented a different state. For example, the combined Alber-Lape advisory represented California. Donald Trump, who received the highest number (five) of the twelve student votes, gained California’s fifty-five electoral votes in the election. To view the breakdown of votes by advisory across the three schools, click the links at the bottom of the article.
The map below demonstrates the final outcome of the Friends Academy Election. Seventy electoral votes were not calculated as there were ties in those states.
Ultimately, the FA Mock Election did not determine a winner for the Presidential Election. Hillary Clinton received 262 electoral votes, while Donald Trump received 206. Neither candidate garnered the 270 necessary to win.
Walzer explains her reaction to the school election: “Since I’m a Democrat, I was relatively pleased with the outcome… I would have been very surprised if Trump won our school’s election since our school espouses a liberal viewpoint and we are in a very liberal state. Also, in the actual election, younger voters disproportionately voted for Hillary, so it was unsurprising to see that mirrored in our mock election.”
Friends Academy is now deferring the vote over to the Student Faculty Board. SFB will act as the House of Representatives, which determines the winner of our national presidential election when neither candidate receives a majority vote. SFB’s vote is supposed to occur some time this week. Senior Catherine Lori, a member of the board since her freshman year, predicts that Hillary Clinton will ultimately win, as “most people on SFB are pretty liberal.” However, with the recent changes to SFB’s membership procedures, (in which SFB is now an open panel available to all students, not just elected representatives), there is potential for another unexpected outcome.