Early (very early) voting gets under way at Upper St. Clair

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Early voting was under way in Upper St. Clair today. Very early voting.

Four years ahead of schedule, Jessica Murphy, a 14-year-old freshman at Upper St. Clair High School, cast a vote for president.

Her choice: Mitt Romney.

The reason: "Truthfully, because my family are all Republicans," she said after voting in the high school's cafeteria.

Jessica is too young to vote in the official election Tuesday, but today, she and her classmates got to have their say in determining the next president of the United States.

Upper St. Clair's law club holds mock elections every two years, and this year the ballot contained seven races ranging from president to state treasurer.

"Mostly, it's just to get kids excited about the election and about politics," said Elizabeth Vargo, 17, a junior who is club president.

Ron Sivillo, a social studies teacher who oversees the elections, said the school has been holding them at least as long as he has been there, which is 14 years.

Upper St. Clair tends to trend Republican, and the same has been true for its mock elections, although four years ago students voted for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain, Mr. Sivillo said.

In years past, Upper St. Clair has been part of a statewide mock student election sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of State. That program dates to 1988 and continued through 2010.

Mr. Sivillo said he was surprised this year when he called the department and was told the program had been ended due to budgetary issues.

Ron Ruman, press secretary for the Department of State, said he did not know the cost associated with the mock election but said it was not the subject of a budgetary cut. He said for the past 18 months, Secretary of State Carol Aichele has traveled to more than 40 schools, talking about the importance of voting.

"We thought that was a good way to do it, and that can be done anytime," he said.

The mock student election program is still in place, said Nick Winkler, director of public relations for the department, but this year, Pennsylvania votes are being tabulated by the National Student Mock Election.

Mr. Sivillo said he had not heard of the change, and that Upper St. Clair's votes would not be part of any larger total.

But for the record, today's Upper St. Clair vote was Romney, 278, and Obama, 217.

education - neigh_south - electionsmunicipal


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