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Voting at the High School
by Phillip Irwin, High School, Rathgar, Dublin.

In the context of studying Unit 3, The State, my 3rd Year class decided to conduct a mock election around the same time as the general election. This provided great opportunities for participation by the full class in the project but also gave rise to some difficulties. A major one was the delay of the Government in calling the election until May which left us anxiously waiting. When May 17th was announced as the date the class decided on May 15th for the school mock election. Voting to be open to all students in years 1 – 3 (400 Voters Approx)

The following areas were divided between groups in the class:
* Devising copying ballot paper
* Permission and Venue
* Register of Electors
* Ballot Boxes/stamps to validate votes etc
* Posters to announce election and encourage voting
* Monitoring campaigns in the real election.
The devising of the ballot paper proved difficult because ours is a Dublin City school with students coming from a number of different Dáil constituencies. After much discussion it was decided that the ballot paper would be based on the Party Leaders. The fact that the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was not a candidate in any constituency was ignored.

Election Day:
There were a number of jobs in the polling stations which meant that the student managers of the station could allow class members to rotate and try every job:
* Security and queue supervision
* Checking the register
* Stamping and distributing ballot papers
* Calling classes to vote.
There were some attempts at double voting during the morning and it is interesting to note that the safety and security of the ballot was a big issue in discussion after the election and in the Action Project Reports.

The Count:
A returning officer and Deputy returning officer were elected by the class and all class members took part in the count. The quota was 193 votes and there was a small number of spoiled votes. After the first count Fianna Fail had a slender lead over Sinn Féin followed by the Green Party, Labour, Fine Gael, P.D.s and Socialist Party. On the fifth count Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fáil were elected with 44.27% followed by Trevor Sargent and the Green Party with 36.46%. The results were read by the Returning Officer at the school assembly and posted on Noticeboards. It certainly heightened interest in the real general election in the school.