Every four years, just days before the actual presidential election, the elementary school sets up
mock voting booths and invites its students – from kindergarten to fifth grade – to cast their ballot for the candidate that they think would deserve to become president of the United States of America. But it’s the process leading up to the vote that’s genuinely interesting. The students spend months learning about the candidates, who they only know as ‘Candidate A’ and ‘Candidate B’, focusing on policy and real issues, instead of on their personality and popularity. “We talk about exact facts and issues and put them on two sides of a spreadsheet. Then the students debate the facts in class,” principal Patricia Moore says.
Eventually, the kids are told which candidate they had been siding with, and with this last piece of information in mind, they are ready to cast their vote. The same scenario been unfolding every four years since 1968, since Tom McAdams, a fifth-grade social studies teacher initiated the tradition, and the kids have predicted the result of the election every time.
“Every year since Nixon, we’ve correctly predicted [the outcome of the election] based on the popular vote. We do our own electoral votes based on enrollment in the classes,” Moore told CBS News. “We’re pretty proud of it. Every four years we continue it. We can’t skip an election nationwide, so we can’t skip it in our school.”
Regarding the reason for their impeccable track record of predicting the outcome of the presidential elections, principal Moore thinks that diversity may play a big part. “We have minority groups, students that speak English as a second language, white collar, blue collar,” she said. “It could be representative of the nation.”
The mock election of Benjamin Franklin Elementary School took place again this year, and after calculating the votes and adding them to a spreadsheet, the teachers announced the winner: Hillary Clinton. The Democratic candidate got 52% of the votes (277), while the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, only 43% (230). Everyone is now waiting for the results of the actual Election Day, on November 8. Our “palms are sweaty,” Moore jokingly said.