Student Vote 2020

More than 21,000 students from across Lincoln and Lancaster County cast their electronic ballots on Thursday as part of Student Vote, a Lincoln Public Schools tradition since 1992 that offers students the chance to participate in a mock election using the same local ballot that voters will see Nov. 3.

Students in grades four through 12 at every LPS school - along with Lincoln Christian, Raymond Central and Murdock - participated in Student Vote, which has been held every two years in conjunction with KFOR radio. 

This year, 21,194 students voted. They voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden (12,787) over Republican Donald Trump (6,377) and Libertarian Jo Jorgensen (1,776) in the presidential race; for Republican incumbent Ben Sasse (8,197) over Democratic challenger Chris Janicek (7,666) and Libertarian challenger Gene Siadek (4,116) in the race for U.S. Senate; and for Democratic challenger Kate Bolz (9,605) over Republican incumbent Jeff Fortenberry (8,891) and Libertartian Dennis B. Grace (1,832) for District 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Students also voted in favor three initiative measures related to potential casino gambling in Nebraska. Full results from Thursday’s Student Vote, including a school-by-school breakdown, are available online.

Student Vote coordinator Marielle Hinrichs, a junior at Lincoln Southeast High School, announced the results live on the KFOR and LPS Facebook pages at 4 p.m. Before the announcement, KFOR’s Charlie Brogan interviewed Hinrichs and Jaci Kellison, the LPS K-12 social studies curriculum specialist.

Hinrichs talked about the importance of Student Vote.

“It’s important for every student to vote because they develop the habits and the want to have their voice heard,” she said. “As a citizen it’s important to vote because your vote is your voice.”

Kellison took part in the first Student Vote when she was a student at Lincoln Southeast High School. The candidates and issues may have changed since then, but the purpose behind Student Vote remains the same.

“I think of it as two important lessons. One is just that ability to participate in a mock election - that physical act of casting your ballot on Student Vote day is really exciting for students,” she said. “The other purpose is all of the lead-up to that, everything that surrounds the Student Vote activity. Students are learning about the democratic process, they’re learning about what different offices to vote for, why you vote for those offices, what those offices get to do and how they impact your life.”

Students voted with their Chromebooks. Some schools had students vote during their social studies classes, while others set aside time at the beginning of a period for all students to vote at the same time. 

In teacher Lyndsay Koehn’s fifth-grade class at Kooser Elementary School, student election commissioners produced a three-minute video that explained the process for Student Vote and why voting is important. Students also were encouraged to wear red, white and blue clothing on Thursday.

One of those student election commissioners, Bethel Neway, said she learned a lot from participating in Student Vote.

“When you vote you have a voice,” she said.

Another student election commissioner, Lilah Zastron, said she learned that everyone’s voice matters.

“Your vote could be the one that decides the election,” she said.

Student Vote was more than a one-day event. Students at all levels learned more about voting and the election process during the weeks leading up to Thursday. For elementary students, there were lessons that focused on the question, “Why does voting matter?” For middle and high school students, “How do I become an informed voter?”

Published: October 30, 2020, Updated: October 30, 2020