Last week I wrote about what I observed during the May primary election.
More than a decade ago, the signature on my returned vote envelope was rejected and I was contacted by the Coos County Clerk to resolve the matter. I didn’t. I did, however, go in months later to file a new signature card. My failure to act has stayed with me.
Then, in the 2012 Coos Commissioner election, Bob Main won by 14 votes over Fred Messerle. An article in The World showed the demographic breakdown of county voting, so I decided to build a math lesson around those results for my 6th grade class. We were studying Rates, Percentages and Ratios. 12,664 to 12,650 made for 50.02% to 49.97% election result lesson.
What I discovered was our children were not aware of what County Commissioners did or how government functioned. I decided to change that and designed a class election for three commissioner positions, a county clerk, recorder, and sheriff. I would act as legal counsel.
Elections were held quarterly. No campaigning allowed. The stage was set.
Throughout each week, a "Proposed Agenda" was available on the whiteboard where students could list their concerns. On Wednesday mornings, commissioners would pick three topics for the agenda, and the chair would determine order of address.
I created a PowerPoint™ template for meetings with SmartBoard™ technology so the County Recorder could make a visual record of each meeting. It was archived at the end of each meeting which were Wednesdays from 11:10 to 11:30, our lunch time.
Students learned first-hand how to make a motion, discuss, and move previous question. They also learned that votes had to reconcile. They voted on several issues. One, if a person talked without recognition, the sheriff issued the out of order person, a one-minute recess fine. Yes, I spent a minute or two "on the fence" during morning recess.
Once I was called into the principal’s office because a parent complained that I didn’t allow their child to read a novel during meetings. I explained that the issue had been taken up by students and after much discussion, voted to not allow drawing or reading during their 20-minute meetings. The class determined that making an informed vote was critical which included voting to abstain.
A 6th grade lesson for all of us. Vote. Vote informed.
Your vote saves our Democracy.
Laurie "Sue" Powrie