By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Pitman students take part in third annual mock election
Pitman Mock Election
Isaac Farhadian's second period AP U.S. Government class was one of the many classes at Pitman High that participated in the California Student Mock Election. Students were able to get the full voting experience as they received their own "I Voted" stickers and analyzed results once they became public (Photo contributed).

For the third time in as many years, students at Pitman High School in Turlock made their voices heard as they participated in the California Student Mock Elections. This program — which saw 1,033 Pitman students participate this year — aims to help young people discover the importance of elections and better understand the democratic process by having them vote on state propositions, gubernatorial candidates and senatorial candidates. Once all the votes are counted, students are able to compare their votes to those of their peers at schools from across the state.

Isaac Farhadian teaches government at Pitman and has served as the Mock Election coordinator for each of the three instances the event has been held. He explained that in previous years, only his own classes participated in the program. After calling a department meeting, he was able to have sophomores, juniors and seniors from all campus history, government and economics courses participate.

“I want to give a shout out to the Social Studies Department at Pitman High School for turning this Mock Election into a resounding success," Farhadian said.

One of the other Pitman classes to participate was Eric Reza Jr.’s government and economics courses. He spoke about the importance of expanding the program to more classes at schools across the state.

"By giving students an opportunity to practice researching propositions and gubernatorial candidates, we are empowering these young adults to be well-informed citizens that are going to make an impact on our state and country," Reza said.

Participating students had the opportunity to learn more about their ballot options as well discuss and debate the topics during what they called ElectionCon last week. After heavy discussion and thinking, the students cast their votes.

In the gubernatorial race, Pitman students elected Gavin Newsom to retain his seat over hopeful Brian Dahle with 57.7% of the vote. In the senate race, 64% of student mock voters sided with Alex Padilla over Mark Meuser.

When it came to Proposition 1, a measure that would amend the California Constitution to enshrine a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including the right to choose to have an abortion and the right to choose or refuse contraceptives, students overwhelmingly voted in favor with 75% of ballots supporting the proposition.

A similar landslide vote arose for Proposition 28, which would require the state to allocate at least 1% of Prop. 98 funding (money guaranteed for public schools and community colleges in the state budget) for music and arts education. 79.4% of participating students voted in favor of the measure.

Proposition 29 would require kidney dialysis clinics to have at least one physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant with six months of relevant experience available on site or, in some cases, via telehealth. It also requires that clinics report infection data to the state, as well as publicly list physicians who have ownership interest of 5% or more in a clinic. The measure also prohibits clinics from closing or reducing services without state approval and from refusing treatment to people based on their insurance type. When it came to this measure, Pitman students voted 62.2% in favor.

Students also had their voices heard when it came to new taxes accompanied with Proposition 30. The measure would impose a 1.75% personal income tax increase on Californians making more than $2 million per year to fund a new revenue stream to subsidize zero-emission vehicles and fund wildfire response and prevention. 64.4% of students voted in favor of the new taxes.

The topic of flavored tobacco products has been heavily discussed in recent years as it relates to its apparent appeal to young people. Proposition 31 is referendum that will decide whether to overturn the 2020 law that prohibits the sale of some flavored tobacco products. A “yes” vote upholds the current law; a “no” vote would strike down the law and allow the sale of flavored tobacco products. 67.7% of students voted to uphold the current legislation.

When it comes to sports betting, Pitman students made their voices heard on one of the most contested topics of this year’s election. There are two gambling-related measures on the ballot. Proposition 26 would allow tribal casinos and the state’s four horse racetracks to offer in-person sports betting. At racetracks, sports betting could only be offered to people 21 or older. Meanwhile, Proposition 27 would allow licensed tribes and out-of-state gaming companies to offer mobile and online sports betting for adults 21 and older outside Native American tribal lands.

With two measures on the ballot relating to the legalization of sports betting, the state may see a unique instance where they can both pass. If this happens making the two measures in conflict with one another, California’s constitution states that the one that passed with the higher margin of ‘yes’ votes goes into effect and the other does not. This conflict is exactly what took place at Pitman as Prop. 26 passed with 60.4% of the vote and Prop. 27 passed with 55%, meaning that Prop. 26 would come out victorious.

Kylie Guina was one of the students who participated in the mock election and found it useful to learn about all the unique twists and turns of the election process, especially as they relate to California.

"The opportunity to take part in a student mock election was an interesting and informative way to learn about the election process,” she said. “I didn't really know what a proposition was in the legal sense before the election, and I learned how to do my own research."

Representatives from the campus Junior State of America (JSA) Civics Club also spoke about the importance of learning about the democratic process in high school so that most students can be prepared prior to casting their official votes once they turn 18.

"I definitely learned a lot from hosting the mock election,” said student and Pitman JSA Vice-President Fiona Sargissian. “This gave us the opportunity to research, discuss, and debate the different propositions in-depth with each other. It was really important for me to get this opportunity to teach others about what's going on in the real world to prepare not only them, but myself as well."

Tianna Karr serves as the Pitman JSA president and shared similar sentiments when reflecting on her personal experience with the event.

"My experience with both the Mock Election and the JSA ElectionCon was really good,” Karr said. “First of all, being a part of the voting and knowing more about what exactly we were voting on was the best part. Secondly, just hearing others' opinions and perspectives on the different propositions was definitely interesting and interacting with other students about them was great."

Farhadian shared that seeing over 1,000 students at Pitman High become interested in the democratic process and participate in the Mock Election was an amazing feeling for him.

"The Student Mock Election provided a wonderful opportunity for the students to participate in the democratic process,” he said. “They conducted independent research, critically analyzed the pros and the cons for each proposition, formulated their positions and voted… I’m incredibly proud of all of them and hope that they can take these lessons with them into adulthood. I hope they learned just how important it is to be involved.”