Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bringing Tech to the Mock Election...

4 years ago I was a new teacher looking to make my mark in a new school. Being that it was an election year, a school-wide Mock Election seemed to fit the bill. We built a double stall voting booth and invited the entire school population (over 400 students K-8) to come and choose between George Bush and John Kerry. The day was quite a success.

4 years later, it was assumed that I would naturally host another Mock Election. It seemed to me to be a great opportunity to flex my tech muscle with some of the new tricks I've learned in the past 4 years.

This year's Mock Election featured the following upgrades:
  1. Touch Screen Voting via 2 booths, one with an 8" touch screen from eBay and another with a touch screen scavenged from a store kiosk.
  2. Live Updates via the Web: on Throughout the day, we submitted results as each class voted. Each submission would update the total number of votes, as well as updating the totals for each class and an "Electoral Map" based on the number of students in each class.
  3. Vote submission via Cell Phone: Using the free Textmarks service and a little bit of php wizardry, I was able to send a text message to submit the votes for each class as they left. This allowed us to instantly update the Mock Election Website in a room with no internet access.
Overall, the day was a great success. The lines moved quickly, every vote was counted, and the website made it possible for classes to follow the progress throughout the day. I won't get into the outcome of the vote (this is not a politics blog, there are plenty of those already), but it was a very revealing landslide.

I can only imagine what we will do in 2012.

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