Sen. John Kerry won the statewide iVote 2004 election held Oct. 25 after nearly 4,000 K-12 students from Big Rock to Belvidere, Scales Mound to Springfield, and Chicago to Crete cast their ballots online. Kerry won 57% of the online student vote; Bush got 42%.
Sponsored by the Illinois State Boards of Education and Elections with the Northwestern University's Collaboratory Project, iVote was designed to increase interest in the electoral process.
Middle school students participating in the iVote election voted overwhelmingly for Kerry (72%) while late elementary students (grades 4-5) split their votes evenly between the two candidates. Bush captured the youngest students (K-3), earning 64% of their vote. Among high school students, Bush won 50% of the vote and Kerry won 47%.
In the race for the U.S. Senate, high school students voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, who garnered 65% of the vote. Alan Keyes got 32%. Only high school students voted in the iVote senate race.
The election has been a “hot topic” among the 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Elmhurst's Sandburg Middle School, according to Helen Lazzaro, the school's technology coordinator.
Using the resources of Northwestern University's Collaboratory Project, she helped the school's students register to vote, research the candidates' platforms, learn about the Electoral College and publish their findings -- all online.
"Research studies show that the earlier individuals vote, the more likely they are to become lifelong voters," said Gary Greenberg, director of Northwestern's technology outreach initiative known as the Collaboratory Project. "By directly involving children in the political process, we hope to make them feel that voting is a part of life."
iVote's structure allowed groups of students to research and create materials about the 2004 elections on issues of interest to students. These materials were submitted as posters, essays, position papers, editorials and advertisements and shared in the Collaboratory, a Web-based collaborative learning environment.
To participate in iVote, K-12 teachers from across the state registered their classes on the Collaboratory's WEB site at http://collaboratory.nunet.net/. Students posted their work in the password-protected, online Collaboratory so that pupils throughout the state could read it. Online discussions enabled them to comment on one another's work and viewpoints.
The Collaboratory Project made its election results public to give students the opportunity to analyze the data and discuss differences in voting across the state and between grade levels. After the general election, they will compare their voting results with nationwide results.
At Elmurst's Sandburg Middle School, where students are voting on Election Day, some are learning a hard lesson. Only 513 of the 720 students are eligible to vote. The others failed to register by the deadline.