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High Schoolers vote using real punch card voting machines

"High school freshman Jonathan Rosenberg learns how to use a punch card voting machine with the help of history teacher Maura Clevenger. Matt Johnson/staff photoHundreds of South Whidbey High School students got a one to four year head start on voting this week when they went face-to-face with punch card voting. With help and equipment from the Island County Auditor's Office, freshmen, sophomores and juniors at the school braved the uncertainties of hanging, pregnant and dimpled chads to cast their votes for next year's Associated Student Body officers. The voting process was far different from the usual routine of checking boxes on a piece of paper. Students bellied up to real punch card voting machines for this election, the same machines used to elect local and state representatives and President George W. Bush just a few months ago.The students' attempts to use the machines was a good reminder of how intimidating even simple technology can be for a first-time user. High school teacher Maura Clevenger brought her freshman history class into the school's old commons Wednesday morning to cast some of the first ASB election ballots. She said the biggest problem her students had was in pushing the punch card ballots far enough into the machine for the ballot's top to slip over the two pegs that hold it in place.After some instruction from Clevenger and auditor's office personnel, the students caught on. Freshman Jonathan Rosenberg said the voting process seemed natural, even though he is three years way from casting his first vote for local, state and federal elections.It seems like the way it should be done, he said.Auditor's office employee LoAnn Gulick said this is the second time in three years she has helped bring the machines to the high school. Voting on real voting machines, she said, is something students need to experience.This is a learning process, she said.Later in the day, the auditor's office certified the results of the election. Winning the office of ASB president was Finn Keough. Vice president will be Gena Felton. Ashley Pattis will be next year's secretary, while Hannah Shafaat was voted treasurer. Jennifer Barrow will serve as the ASB's public relations officer. "

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