Arkansas City students elected Republican Donald Trump to the presidency in mock voting on Election Day, correctly predicting across all grade levels what some analysts have called the biggest upset in presidential election history.

OptimistThe voting was part of the sixth mock general election sponsored by the Optimists of Arkansas City and USD 470, dating back to 1996. The students have predicted the next president correctly each time.

Trump and running mate Mike Pence received 1,173 votes, or 46.8 percent of the total student vote, while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine received 762 votes, or 30.4 percent.

Libertarian Gary Johnson received 326 votes, or 13 percent, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein had 202, or 8.1 percent. A total of 2,544 students voted in this mock election, out of an expected 2,894.

The final results were announced Nov. 8 at the end of a two-hour vote-counting party. The event was the culmination of the Kids Voting Kansas program, sponsored every four years by the Optimists.

This program exposes students to the voting experience and its importance at all levels of government, according to club treasurer Jay Warren.

“The objective of this program is to get kids involved and understanding government early,” Warren said. “Informed decision-making is the basic goal of this event,” said club secretary Andrew Lawson.

The program began Oct. 19 with a public forum for local legislative and county commission candidates at Arkansas City Middle School, which was attended by many students and their parents.

Kids Voting Kansas also features curricular tie-ins with classroom material to bring students the lessons of democracy in a more approachable and meaningful way.

They had a chance to put those lessons into practice on Election Day. Students from every grade level, from kindergarten through 12th grade, voted that day at their school locations.

Students at Arkansas City High School, Arkansas City Middle School and six elementary schools voted electronically. This was the first time electronic voting was used throughout the Arkansas City Public School District, although it debuted in 2012 at the middle school and high school levels.

Paper ballots still were used at the two Arkansas City Christian Academy locations and at Sacred Heart Catholic School. But the plan is for all public and private schools to use electronic voting in 2020.

“This better prepares them for using the electronic voting machines that are now the standard in our democratic process,” Lawson said.

“Our main goal is for the kids to understand what voting is like in the ‘real world,’ so we commend the school district for making this jump into the 21st-century voting method.”

Pizza and refreshments were served that night to student volunteers at the counting party, who assisted the Optimists with counting the paper ballots whiles watching the national results on television.


Other voting results for students

In addition to the presidential race, students participated in voting for U.S. Congress, as well as local and state races. Many also voted on the Kansas constitutional question and judicial retention elections.

The only result the students did not correctly predict was in the Senate District 32 race, in which they had Democratic challenger Don Shimkus defeating Republican Senator-elect Larry Alley by a margin of 654 votes to 547, or 54.1 percent to 45.2 percent, respectively. The outcomes students predicted included:

  • U.S senator for Kansas — Republican Sen. Jerry Moran won with 877 votes, or 53.7 percent, nearly double the vote count of his nearest challenger, Democrat Patrick Wiesner;
  • U.S. representative for Kansas’ Fourth Congressional District — Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s choice to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, won with 651 votes, or 38.9 percent, in a crowded field that also included Democrat Dan Giroux, 441 (26.4%); independent Miranda Allen, 373 (22.3%); and Libertarian Gordon Bakken, 192 (11.5%);
  • State representative for Kansas House District 80 — Republican Anita Judd-Jenkins won with 664 votes, or 55.2 percent, and Democratic challenger Michelle Schiltz had 519 (43%);
  • Cowley County Commission District 2 — Republican challenger Bob Voegele had 278 votes, or 51 percent, while Democratic incumbent Gary Wilson earned 262, or 48.1 percent;
  • Cowley County Commission District 3 — Republican incumbent Alan Groom had 321 votes, or 55 percent, while Democratic challenger James Karasek had 256, or 43.8 percent;
  • The Kansas Supreme Court and Kansas Court of Appeals justices all were retained, but some received no more than 55 to 60 percent of the vote, mirroring the real election results;
  • The constitutional question to protect the right of Kansans to hunt, fish and trap passed with 877 votes, or 79.1 percent of the total votes cast in grades 6-12.

Local candidates for county attorney, clerk, register of deeds, sheriff, and treasurer; the 19th Judicial District; and the Kansas State Board of Education all were unopposed, and each won his or her school election with 95.4 percent or more of the total vote.


About the Optimists of Arkansas City

The Optimists of Arkansas City, whose mission is to bring out the best in kids, are the main financial sponsor of the Kids Voting Kansas program, held every four years in Ark City’s public and private schools.

The Optimist Club of Arkansas City works for the benefit of local youths and its members believe in the giving of themselves in service to others to help their community. The club raises and donates approximately $20,000 per year to the Arkansas City community.

The Arkansas City chapter of the Optimist Club was founded in 1981 by charter members Tommy Aguinaga, Marshall Brentlinger, Jim Brown and John Postelwait. All four still are members today.

Other members include Steve Aguinaga, Bobie Baker, Dan Biddle, Sydney Bland, Gene Burr, Felipe Escalante, Terry Flauding, president Robert Frazee, Chad Giles, Allen Goff, Gary Hale, Garrett Heilig, secretary Andrew Lawson, John Oller, Clayton Soule, treasurer Jay Warren and Jerry Young.

The club was the February 2016 recipient of the Community Cornerstone Award. It is known best for its pork burger concession stand at the annual Arkalalah Festival and the Last Run Car Show.

Funds raised by the Optimists of Arkansas City, including all proceeds from the sale of pork burgers, go to support the youth of Arkansas City and other valuable programs in the community, including:

  • Little League football, baseball, softball, basketball and soccer;
  • Kids Voting Kansas;
  • The GE Volunteers Christmas Fund;
  • The Arkansas City High School booster club.

The Optimists of Arkansas City cosponsor the annual Sgt. Jerry Mills Jr. Fishing Derby and Bicycle Safety Rodeo events, and also assist Boy Scouts Troop 328 and Cowley College’s ACES program with their annual fundraiser meals. It has sponsored three outdoor movies at Wilson Park since 2015.

The Optimists of Arkansas City financed approximately $3,000 of the startup equipment costs for the Arkansas City Police Department’s SafeAssured ID system for children, and annually honor an area Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his or her exemplary service.

The Optimists have donated hot dogs, food items, and manpower to the ACHS band, After Prom, ACPD’s summer DARE Camp, City of Arkansas City employee appreciation events, the DARE Lock-in, the Fraternal Order of Police fireworks show, the annual National Night Out kickoff party, the Northwest Community Center and many other community projects throughout the year.

The local club’s meetings generally are held at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at Daisy Mae’s Café, 511 W. Madison Ave. Its final meeting of 2016 will be Dec. 13.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/arkcityoptimists or www.ksoptimist.org.

To become a member of the Optimists of Arkansas City and make a difference for youths, call (620) 741-1082 or (620) 441-3757, or visit www.optimist.org/onlineforms/Inquiry.cfm?id=7&club=37001.


About Optimist International

Optimist International is a worldwide volunteer organization made up of more than 2,500 local clubs whose members work each day to make the future brighter by bringing out the best in children, their communities and themselves. The purposes of Optimist International are:

  • To develop optimism as a philosophy of life, utilizing the tenets of the Optimist Creed;
  • To promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs;
  • To inspire respect for the law;
  • To promote patriotism, and work for international accord and friendship among all people;
  • To aid and encourage the development of youth, in the belief that the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world.

By meeting the needs of young people in communities worldwide, Optimist clubs have been “Bringing Out the Best in Kids” since 1919, according the Optimist International website.

Optimist Clubs conduct positive service projects aimed at providing a helping hand to youths.

There are 87,000 individual members who belong to 2,900 autonomous clubs across the world.

Optimists conduct 65,000 service projects each year, serving 6 million young people, and they spend $78 million on their communities annually.

Optimist International is recognized worldwide as the premier volunteer organization that values all children and helps them to develop to their full potential. For more information, visit www.optimist.org.


About Kids Voting Kansas

Kids Voting Kansas, Inc. is a grassroots, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that encourages student involvement through community and school partnerships in order to fulfill its mission.

Kids Voting was created as a solution to citizen apathy and poor voter turnout. Its goal is to spark a renewed interest in American democracy.

Kids Voting Kansas has received enthusiastic responses from educators, volunteers, parents and, most important, students. It provides curricula for all grade levels to accompany the voting program.

Students are not only exposed to the basics of an election, but they also experience information gathering, decision-making and the empowerment of voting. Students are active participants in this learning process by discussing and debating the election in school and at home.

For more information, visit www.kidsvotingusa.org/affiliates-near-you/17-kansas/46-kids-voting-kansas or www.facebook.com/KidsVotingKS, or contact Kids Voting Kansas coordinator Emily Bradbury at (785) 271-5304 or ebradbury@kspress.com.


About Kids Voting USA

Kids Voting USA is a nonpartisan, grassroots-driven voter education program committed to creating lifelong voting habits in children, increasing family communication about citizenship and encouraging greater adult voter turnout.

Kids Voting USA relies on its more than 25-year history (since 1988), continual feedback from educators and experience of its affiliates when developing the model to implement programming.

The programming model operates with five key components:

  1. Strong curricula for grade levels K-12 that offer easily implemented, interactive lessons at no cost to schools.
  2. A choice of mock election processes to meet the individualized needs of the schools — paper ballots, electronic voting software or a combination of both.
  3. Activities to involve families in teaching their children their own voting values.
  4. Educator support through local affiliates to provide assistance with ballot creation, volunteers for activities, and resources needed for teaching civic lessons and creating voting habits.
  5. Continuing research on the program’s impact and effectiveness.

Kids Voting USA believes it is of primary importance to utilize local affiliates for educator support.

The local affiliates offer the schools the assistance needed so already overburdened educators are not handed yet another responsibility, with no support offered.

As a national nonpartisan, grassroots-driven voter education program, Kids Voting USA relies on local affiliates to keep the program meeting local needs and honoring America’s founding philosophy of “We the People” as key to our democracy and this program.

For more information, visit www.kidsvotingusa.org.

This information was provided by Optimists of Arkansas City Secretary Andrew Lawson.

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