Before the majority of the United States voted for its next president on Nov. 6, the community at John Brown University voiced its consensus about the race. As part of the Residence Life staff’s election programming, students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to vote in a mock election held Nov. 1-2.
After students dropped a slip of paper with a candidate’s preprinted name into the ballot box, they received a YOVO stamp on their hand – “You Only Vote Once.”
Gov. Mitt Romney won the unofficial vote, with a 72.3 percent majority. President Barack Obama followed with 15.2 percent, and Libertarian Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, trailed close behind with 12.5 percent of the vote. Approximately 300 people voted in the election.
Junior Heather Adams, one of the resident assistant organizers, said about six students wrote in names of other third party candidates.
She also related that many students said they were simply voting for the lesser of two evils.
Adams said that overall she wished even more people would have voted. In the end, she was surprised by how close Obama and Johnson were in the numbers.
“This election demonstrates that our campus is not completely Republican,” she said.
The mock election helped to raise political awareness on campus, Adams said. It demonstrated who the majority of people here would go for, but it also encouraged people to participate in voting in presidential and local elections.
Bryan Cole, townhouse resident director, took part in the execution of the event. He said that mostly students participated, although some professors added their opinions to the mix.
“We hoped for even more participation,” he said. “I hope that we do this again in the future, and I think if we did I would suggest encouraging more faculty and staff to take part.”
Cole said he noticed a distinct difference in students’ attitudes between Wednesday and Thursday after the faith and politics chapel.
While some on the first day said voting did not matter, a few came back the next day recognizing their responsibility to vote.
Other students did not seem to know who to vote for, Cole said, but the resident assistants sitting at the table would encourage them to check the candidates’ websites to help make their decision. Some took that admonition seriously and came back the next day.
Also on Wednesday, Cole sensed some pushback from students about why the University even held a mock election. While he said he could not quite gauge why students reacted that way, Cole said some seemed to think that the conclusion was set and thus that the process was pointless.
He pointed out to those students that they could theoretically make the difference.
“When there are only 300 participants, every vote really does count,” Cole said. “There are always those states which always vote one way or the other – but it is still our responsibility to vote.”
He added that the number of politically informed students who interacted with him in more depth was an encouragement for him.
“I’m glad we portrayed the results in a way which shows the spread of opinions on campus,” Cole said. “I’m not surprised by the results, but I’m glad to see the diversity of opinion.”