UF’s mock election will look a little different this year
Writer: Leah Alsept (@leah_0913)
“Four score and seven years ago…”
Okay, maybe not that long ago, but four years ago the University of Findlay held its 2016 mock election on campus a week before presidential elections on Nov. 1. Helmed by then-editor of the student newspaper The Pulse Sarah Stubbs, aided by PRSSA and FMN (now called the University of Findlay Digital Media Club), “Rock the Mock” was met with decent success, pulling in 567 Oilers to cast votes in the mock election, according to votes counted after the election was over. WLIO covered the event as well.
Donald Trump won the vote by just over 10 percent against Hillary Clinton at 47.3% and 37.2% respectively, while other candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein each pulled under 15%, according to the results calculated and reported in The Pulse.
Trump won the general election just a week later on Nov. 8, with Ohio swinging red at 52.1% votes in favor of Trump and 43.5% of votes in favor of Clinton – Hancock County was generally redder with 67.5% of residents voting for Trump while only 26.7% voted for Clinton, according to a nationwide voter results map by Politico.
With former-Vice President Joe Biden accepting the Democratic Candidate nomination at the final night of the DNC, he becomes the primary candidate to run against Trump in the 2020 election.
Four years later, a global pandemic changed the course of American life, including the election.
UF Assistant Professor of Communication Amy Rogan wants to continue the mock election tradition, albeit with precautions due that comes with navigating a post-COVID-19 lockdown world.
“It is a totally different beast. We really got to try and rethink it. Just like everything else. You just have to stop and rethink and how do you make it work,” she said. “I think at this particular time in our history, it is crucial. As much as people don’t want to think about politics, it is front and center.”
University of Findlay PR and Spanish double major graduate Jacob King was PRSSA president in at the time of the election and said a lot of work was put into the preparation behind the scenes. Specifically, PRSSA handled logistical parts of the election.
“We did promotions… we helped do the banner, and then we also helped request funds for Student Government Association for shirts and stuff,” he said.
On the personal side, King felt the mock election sparked his interest in politics and helped him find where he stood with his beliefs.
“It piqued my interest because of the sensationalism around that past election between Hillary and Trump,” he said. “I would say that was the catalyst that helped me kind of continue my interest in politics and really evaluating what my values– and especially to, my faith, where my faith and my values align politically.”
Although details aren’t solidified yet, Rogan is looking forward to students again taking the lead to make it happen—even if it has to be digital or socially distanced.
“I’m really hoping we have students who step up and really want to be involved and help with the planning process and take the responsibility because it is quite an undertaking. It’s tough,” she said. “With educating the campus and raising the level of consciousness that The Pulse always wants to contribute to, and then just giving our COMM students and other students that hands-on experience with strategy and campaigning and PR and journalism and all those things they get out of it.”
Living an hour ahead of Findlay’s time zone in Wisconsin now, Jacob King won’t be able to attend the upcoming mock election, he does also think the mock election will look different this year.
“What the first election really did was at least offer entertainment value to get people interested in politics, and I think that kind of helped people get on board a little bit of learning more and being more vested,” he said. “I think this one is certainly going to be, maybe not to the same extent of sensational, but because of all the world events, it’s certainly going to bring more people in.”
“This is such an unprecedented time with COVID; we now have a VP on the ticket as a woman, as a woman of color, and a lot of people have a lot of very, very strong opinions about our current president,” King continued.
In changing times, voter participation and engagement stays important to the mock election—and real election.
“It’s so important. It’s important to our community, our campus community, to just have that awareness, that political awareness,” Rogan said.
Workers at the Rock the Mock election in 2016 on UF’s campus check-in voters.