Hiram College transformed into the fictional state of Voterland on Nov. 22, as students in the class “Campaigns and Elections” conducted a one-day election simulation for their final exam.
All semester, the 12 students have been working on the campaigns for fictional candidates for governor of Voterland: Carter Pigot (Independent/Democrat), Melody Haywood (Democrat) and Chase “Derby” Smith (Republican). They purchased commercials, conducted polls and participated in debates.
However, Election Day is the only day they had to campaign to the whole campus, which Jason Johnson, scholar-in-residence and the class instructor, said is reflective of the message in his book “Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell.”
Campaigns go through the same stages – research, development and marketing, as companies selling a product; however, campaigns only have one day to sell their candidate. Other products have a number of days – sometimes an unlimited number.
“(On) Election Day, they buy your candidate or they don’t,” Johnson said. “The students are getting the experience of getting all your votes in one day.”
For Election Day, students in the various campaign groups purchased mobile voting centers (tables with laptops for people to submit their votes instantly) and commercials to promote their candidates (sent out via campus email), using campaign “money” they raised in class. Throughout the day, the student campaign managers also answered questions about their candidates’ stances on important issues.
Much like real elections, the three fictional candidates stand for different issues and have different back stories. Johnson encouraged faculty, staff and fellow students to ask the campaigners tough questions before making a decision.
Johnson last conducted this project in 2008, and more than 700 people in the Hiram community voted. He said these types of projects that involve the whole college and allow students to learn hands-on, are unique to Hiram College.
“This kind of project is what makes Hiram College so special,” he said. “It couldn’t be done at a larger college. But the fact that the campus participates so well (makes me) humbled and excited to be on the campus.”
All faculty, staff, students and alumni with an active hiram.edu email address may vote until 7 p.m. Nov. 22, by emailing their choice to Voterlandballot@yahoo.com. Johnson will announce the winner on Nov. 30.
Want to vote in the Voterland election?
You have until 7 p.m. on Nov. 22. All students, faculty, staff and alumni can vote, as long as they use an active Hiram email address.
Email your choice to Voterlandballot@yahoo.com