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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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Obama sweeps SMU’s first mock election

Robin Austin casts her ballot during the mock presidential election held yesterday afternoon outside of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The event was organized by the Maguire Center for Ethics Design Team. The election allowed SMU students, staff and faculty to cast their votes for the presidential candidate of their choice.
Lindsey Perkins
Robin Austin casts her ballot during the mock presidential election held yesterday afternoon outside of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The event was organized by the Maguire Center for Ethics Design Team. The election allowed SMU students, staff and faculty to cast their votes for the presidential candidate of their choice.

Robin Austin casts her ballot during the mock presidential election held yesterday afternoon outside of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The event was organized by the Maguire Center for Ethics Design Team. The election allowed SMU students, staff and faculty to cast their votes for the presidential candidate of their choice. (Lindsey Perkins)

Barack Obama was the clear winner of Wednesday’s mock election hosted by the SMU Maguire Center Ethics Design Team.

Out of 495 eligible votes, Obama took 223 ballots, giving him 75.1 percent of the vote among Democrats and 45.1 percent of the total vote. John McCain won for the Republicans with 143 votes, taking 73 percent of the Republican vote and 28.8 percent of all the ballots cast.

Overall, over 520 ballots were cast, although 26 of them had to be disqualified because some voters took the liberty of voting for two candidates, typically one Democrat and one Republican.

Ralph Nader swept Independent and write-in candidates with a full 100 percent of Independent votes. Democrats edged out Republicans by 99 votes, or 20 percent of the total voter percentage, which breaks the conservative mold that SMU is typically seen in political lines, especially with the recent announcement of the acquisition of the Bush Library, Museum and Institute.

According to this year’s members of the Maguire Center Ethics Design Team, Senior Clayr Simnacher, a psychology major, Ashley Bruchbauer, a junior art history major, and graduate student Ken Loyer, this is the first time the Ethics Design Team has run a mock election on campus.

As the votes were tallied in a small side office, a part of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Responsibility in McFarlin Auditorium, the three-person team took the time to talk about the success of the mock election, its impact on the SMU community and their hopes for the upcoming real election.

“This is the first time that we’ve done it, but it’s also the first time I’ve heard of it being done at SMU,” Bruchbauer said.

“The group itself is about five years old,” Loyer added. When asked about future mock elections, he responded, “We’re very pleased with the turnout.”

“It’s difficult to say whether or not this will be here in four years because we’ll all be gone,” he said. “It certainly would be in keeping with the goals of the Design Team.”

“I think it should be,” Simnacher replied.

“Youth voting is on the rise, especially with this election, so I hope that in 2012 it keeps going,” Brachbauer said, “whether it was this or another student organization, I hope somebody would do it, take the interest.”

The subject turned to turnout and the success of the day, and everyone in the room agreed that 521 votes was a considerable success.

“I think we got a lot of support from the faculty and staff, which was very encouraging,” Simnacher said. “I know there were faculty who were coming out and telling us that they were encouraging their students to come out and vote. We used a lot of the campus resources to promote it, and we sent out two e-mails, we had a Facebook event, so I think just using our resources, we got a good turnout.”

One topic of interest among the Design Team was how much running a mock election helped to spread awareness about Texas’ primary, coming next Tuesday.

“I think that there were a lot of people who already voted,” Simnacher said. “We had another table there from Democracy Matters right across from us encouraging people to register to vote early, so we could send people over from our table to theirs and say, ‘OK, now go do it for real.'”

Bruchbauer added, “There were a lot of initiatives on campus to get people registered. One of the problems with students is that they don’t know how to go about it, so once you educate them on how to do that, it gets a lot easier. I think with this election, people our age think that their vote counts more than this demographic has in previous elections.”

Pausing to go over the counts, the group took a moment to reflect on the successes of the day and start to tabulate all the results.

“We’re definitely excited about the turnout, it exceeded our expectations,” Loyer said with a smile.

Simnacher was quick to add, “Voting is a privilege; it’s more than a right! At SMU it’s always hard to get people to come to events and put themselves out, but I think that getting 500-plus people to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I’m willing to do this,’ says a lot about the students’ willingness to say, ‘This actually matters.'”

The group discussed some of the mechanics of how the whole election was handled. The first thing they made sure to offer were candidate sheets stating where each candidate stood on key issues and what his or her primary points of focus were for the campaign.

“We wanted to make sure people were informed on where each candidate stood on which issues,” Simnacher said.

“We were happy because students were not just saying, ‘Oh, who are my parents voting for?’ or, ‘Who are my friends voting for?’ but were making their own informed decisions,” commented Bruchbauer.

With the primary less than a week away, the Design Team will continue to offer those fact sheets for anyone who is interested.

“People can stop by the Maguire Center office and come pick them up,” Loyer said. The office is in room 100 of McFarlin Auditorium.

Consisting of only three people, the nonpartisan team appealed for help running the election from the campus political organizations. During the day, volunteers from the College Republicans helped to man the booth, though they reportedly kept their political affiliations quiet.

“They did not influence the voting or publicize who they were or even announce themselves,” Loyer said.

“We contacted the Democrats and the Republicans, and the Republicans were the ones who came up with volunteers,” Simnacher said. “Our totals make it evident that it didn’t skew any results.”

“I don’t think it’s about being a Democrat or a Republican because there are a lot of Republicans on this campus, but the election itself is up for grabs,” Bruchbauer replied.

The figures:

Democrats: 297 votes.

Republicans: 196 votes.

Independents: 2 votes.

Barack Obama: 223 votes (45.1 percent of total, 75.1 percent of Democrats, 45.9 percent of students, 50.5 percent of faculty and staff, 36.2 percent of undisclosed voters)

Hilary Clinton: 73 votes (14.7 percent of total, 24.6 percent of Democrats, 11 percent of students, 25.2 percent of faculty and staff, 13.8 percent of undisclosed voters)

Mike Gravel: 1 vote (0.2 percent of total, 0.3 percent of Democrats, 0 percent of students, 0.9 percent of faculty and staff, 0 percent of undisclosed voters)

John McCain: 143 votes (28.8 percent of total, 73 percent of Republicans, 31.4 percent of students, 16.2 percent of faculty and staff, 36.2 percent of undisclosed voters)

Mike Huckabee: 33 votes (6.7 percent of total, 16.8 percent of Republicans, 6.9 percent of students, 4.5 percent of faculty and staff, 8.5 percent of undisclosed voters)

Ron Paul: 20 votes (4 percent of total, 10.2 percent of Republicans, 4.1 percent of students, 2.7 percent of faculty and staff, 5.3 percent of undisclosed voters)

Ralph Nader: 2 votes (0.2 percent of Total, 100 percent of independents, 0.7 percent of students, 0 percent of faculty and Staff, 0 percent of undisclosed voters)

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