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Picking the Winners

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For the 14th consecutive year, students at a Cincinnati high school have anticipated their elders in choosing the winners of general-election contests.

Six days before Ohio voters chose Charles Luken, a Democrat, to succeed his father, U.S. Representative Thomas A. Luken, and George Voinovich, the Republican former Mayor of Cleveland, as Governor, students at Western Hills High School "elected" both men to their posts.

About 51 percent of the students voted for Mr. Luken and 49 percent voted for his opponent, J. Kenneth Blackwell (both of whom had campaigned at the school), the precise outcome of the general election. Mr. Voinovich, meanwhile, took 51 percent of the student vote and 56 percent of the general vote.

The students also "voted in" a handful of local politicians who were later elected by Cincinnati-area voters.

Charles Beaty, a history teacher at the school, began holding the mock elections in 1976 as an exercise in civics instruction. Since then, says the school's principal, Ray Finke, the racially and economically diverse student body has been more than 80 percent accurate in predicting election outcomes.

In addition, the school encourages students to work at voting booths and in campaigns, he said.

"I'm sometimes concerned that the general public is as little informed as our kids are," Mr. Finke comments. "There's a tremendous void about what kids know about civics--about government, about candidates, about the elective process."

More than 1,400 of the school's 2,300 students voluntarily chose to vote, he said--a percentage far higher than even Presidential elections draw in the United States.


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