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Video: Here’s what Memphis schoolchildren have to say about picking the next president

Student mock election at W.H. Brewster Elementary School in Memphis.
Student mock election at W.H. Brewster Elementary School in Memphis.
Laura Faith Kebede

When it came to choosing who should be the next president of the United States, 9-year-old Jamiera Willis did her homework.

“I took my papers home and did some studies on that person,” said the fourth-grader at W.H. Brewster Elementary School in Memphis. “I went on the YouTube and watched election videos. I went on the internet and researched and saw all the things they’ve been doing.”

Like Jamiera, classmate Johnathan Brooks seemed to understand what’s at stake on Tuesday when Americans go to the polls to choose their next leader.

“If we have problems … they can help us figure the problems out,” he said of the president’s role. “When I went to search for all the presidents to see what they were trying to do for these 50 states, I picked my president because they were doing the right things.”

Nearly 400 students at Brewster joined about 166,000 students across Tennessee in casting their votes last week in a first-of-its-kind statewide student mock election. From preschool to high school, from public schools to private ones and homeschool associations, the event provided a platform for civic lessons leading up to the student vote.

Brewster Principal Angela Askew said it’s important to expose students to the election process early.

“We’re giving them a real-life experience in the election process so they will know exactly how important their one vote counts. One vote can make a difference,” she said.

A mock election in Memphis from Chalkbeat Tennessee on Vimeo.

The Secretary of State’s office, which organized the mock election, reported these results from Tennessee’s preK-12 vote:

53.1 percent — Donald J. Trump, Republican — 88,208
34.3 percent — Hillary Clinton, Democratic — 56,935
5.0 percent — Gary Johnson, Independent— 8,374
2.3 percent — ”Rocky” Roque De Le Fuente, Independent — 3,888
2.3 percent — Jill Stein, Independent — 3,800
1.5 percent — Alyson Kennedy, Independent — 2,434
1.4 percent — Mike Smith, Independent — 2,329

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