St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
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Kids offer inventive solutions to dispute

Vote again, and again, let the teenagers decide or call everyone who voted on the phone. Third-graders are flush with ideas on how to pick the president.

[Times photos: Boyzell Hosey]
Forest Lakes Elementary third-graders, from left, Chase Hoffman, Erika Wright, Andrea Morris, Victor Chapman and Marco Tarantino acknowledge the applause of classmates after their presentation on the presidential election.

By TERRI D. REEVES

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


On Friday, Day 10 after the election, the nation still didn't know who the 43rd president would be. Students in two North Pinellas classrooms didn't know either, but they had some novel suggestions about resolving the nation's closest election in a century.

photo
Marissa Tyler works on her drawing of Al Gore as part of an assignment.
One suggested two more revotes, since one alone probably wouldn't settle the question. Another proposed contacting each voter individually, which might not be any harder than interpreting a dimpled chad. A third suggested letting teenagers break the tie.

In Carla Biedermann's third-grade class at Forest Lakes Elementary School in Oldsmar, pupils were busy reading newspapers and magazines and surfing the Internet.

Marissa Tyler, 8, expressed her concern with all the squabbling, spinning and legal wrangling going on.

"They should hurry up and get the votes in because I'm going crazy," she said. "They need to get a president so I can go ahead and live my life."

But others said the nation shouldn't be too hasty in picking a president.

Victor Chapman, 8, said all Floridians should revote, while Marco Tarantino, also 8, said only the people who thought they made a mistake should be allowed to revote.

Delaney Choate, 8, offered another solution: "We should vote twice more, because it probably won't work the second time either, but by the third time they will probably get it right."

Taylor Lesch, 8, offered a simpler solution.

"We should just have the speaker of the House be president," he said, later admitting that he wasn't sure who that was. (It's Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, who, by the way, used to be a history teacher.)

So what should ballots of the future look like?

Beth Evaul, 8, said we should all vote by computer.

Nine-year-old Alexis Aberi added: "We should have pictures (of the candidates) on the computer in case the voters can't read."

At McMullen-Booth Elementary School in Clearwater, Rosabeth Tarver's fourth-grade class has been focusing on collecting and graphing election data. On Friday, they took a poll to see how many favored the continuation of the Electoral College.

A bit of confusion in the counting process resulted in a mandatory recount; however, the final results were five in favor of the college and 19 in favor of changing to the popular vote.

Patricia Truax, 10, was one of the five supporting the Electoral College.

"This way, if one of the candidates is winning the popular vote, the other candidate still has a chance," she said.

Dustin Callan, 9, said he had a way to end the confusion over the ballots.

"Find everyone's phone number and call them back and ask who they voted for," he said.

Lokesh Coomar, 10, said people should just write in the name of their favorite candidate, and Danny Lee, 9, suggested the name of a Web site for computer voting: www.prez.com. (Unfortunately, that Web address is already spoken for. The current site describes Election 2000 as "The Monster that would not die" and urges voters "Next time vote for Madonna!")

Alena Diaz, 10, said, "Everything is all mixed up," and added that voting should start all over.

Her friend, Allyson Sharf, 9, said the dilemma should be solved by opening up the polls to a new electorate.

"Let the kids who are 16 to 18 years old determine the outcome," she said.

Olivia Tikriti, 9, recommended Bush and Gore be co-presidents.

Most of the pupils said they were very interested in the election and looked forward to the day they could vote.

Except for Amy Farid, a 9-year-old from Clearwater, who said when she grows up, she will stay away from the polls on Election Day.

"I'm not going to vote," she said, "if they're going to act like a bunch of babies and fight over who wins."

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