Students Participate in a Mock Caucus!

Ms. Fauver and the student volunteers

Two weeks ago, students at Lenape had the opportunity to vote for the candidate they felt was best suited to be the next President of the United States. Ms. Fauver, Mrs. Gaffney, and several student volunteers organized and helped run a mock caucus inside the Lenape Media Center. For three days, students came in with their history classes, or English classes for the freshmen, and listened to students who represented each candidate. After spending the period discussing the policies and background of each candidate, each student had the opportunity to vote inside official voting booths from the county.

On Friday of that week, the winners of the mock caucus were announced on Lenape Live. Out of a total of 1,349 voters, Bernie Sanders was the democratic winner with 521 votes. Hillary Clinton had 194 votes. On the Republican side, Donald Trump was the winner with 245 votes. Ted Cruz came in 2nd place with 146 votes and Marco Rubio placed third with 105 votes. John Kasich collected 92 votes while Ben Carson collected 46 votes.

Overall, the caucus was a major success!! Students engaged in several discussions and were generally concerned about the future of this country.I had the opportunity to ask Ms. Fauver, Lenape media specialist and coordinator of the caucus, how she felt about the success of the mock caucus.

What were your expectations going into the mock caucus? Were you expecting as much debate and excitement as was present?
Ms. Fauver: Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from the caucus. Due to my personal interest in voting and elections, I wanted to “do something” for the presidential primary race. I was hoping that I could find some students who would want to caucus for the candidates and I hoped that classes attending the caucus would be interested.
The caucus far exceeded my expectations – in fact, I could not have dreamed it any better! In this truly student-run caucus, the students who volunteered to advocate for the candidates were phenomenal! These students made it successful and I am very grateful to have found such an amazing group of twenty students.
The caucusing students were informed, articulate, passionate and extremely knowledgeable about their candidate and other candidates in the race. I wish the real Presidential debates would be as policy-driven and respectful as our students’ debates over the three days. Given the enthusiasm of these students, their classmates visiting the caucus could not help but get excited and engaged in political debates. The caucus exceeded all expectations and was all thanks to the student representatives.


Is there anything you saw or heard that surprised you during those three days?
Ms. Fauver: A lot! I was truly amazed and humbled by the intelligent yet passionate conversations and debates from our students. I know we have wonderful students at Lenape but they never cease to surprise me. It was quite interesting how some of the caucus tables took on attributes of the candidates. For instance, the Clinton table was very organized and prepared while the Sanders table was passionate but cluttered and kept navigating away from the structure of the table. The Trump table was confident and their table was disheveled, causing many to compare it to Trump’s hair. Carson and Kasich’s tables were low-key with lots of information on policies but no showmanship. Rubio and Cruz seemed like they believed they were the frontrunners and were good at getting their message out but were overshadowed a bit by Trump’s table in the middle of them.
There were some defining moments – Chase Keller stayed until 3:30p on the third day talking with one student about Sanders and why she should support him.
Students did not back down from any questions (unlike the actual candidates). Everyone was respectful while enthusiastic.
Students’ level of excitement and genuine interest surprised me… overall, I would say that 80-90% of the student body who attended the caucus were truly engaged in the Election and the issues facing America. Between the classes and the student volunteers, I see a bright future for democracy in America.


What motivated you to organize this mock caucus?
Ms. Fauver: I love voting because I feel like that is the one act that all US citizens can engage in where you absolutely can make a difference. It may be cliché but every vote does matter. Regardless of polls and wealthy donors and corruption in government, the winner of an election comes down to a very simple concept – every voters’ selection. While the polls may often predict correctly, it doesn’t matter – all that matters is that citizens vote.
My dream is that voter turnout in America rises past 90% – then we would truly know the will of the people and it would truly be a democracy.
I believe we take this right to vote for granted way too often and it is seen as a chore to vote – when, in fact, it is a fantastic privilege that many around the world have sacrificed their lives for.
Since I started at Lenape ten years ago, I have tried to find ways to enhance our students’ understanding of politics and encouraged their civic engagement. I was motivated by two high school teachers to take an active role and to be an active citizen and I feel like I should give back and help encourage the next generation of active, engaged citizens.


What do you hope the students took away from the mock caucus?
Ms. Fauver: I hope that students understand the diversity of issues and the range of policies, plans and proposals from each of the candidates. It is easy to get caught up in the negative ads and soundbites from Presidential candidates, particularly in this election with Donald Trump. I felt strongly that we needed to get students talking about real issues and debating real policy ideas before they cast their vote. Some other schools may have had a mock primary that only involved voting – I wanted to give our students a better understanding of elections, the primary process, the candidates and the issues in our country. I hope that students did learn about the candidates and the issues and I hope they enjoyed the experience of voting in real voting machines. More than anything, I hope that students left wanting to know more, to learn everything they can, to watch debates and election results and follow the election as they are our future and their future will be influenced by the winner of the 2016 Presidential race.

Thanks to Ms. Fauver and everyone else who helped make the mock caucus possible. Look out for another mock caucus in November for the general election.