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Students will cast their vote for President
They may not be old enough to vote, but 34,000 Nebraska students from more than 217 schools will be casting their ballot in the next few weeks. They're voting for president.
While these students' voices may not be heard on a national level, which way they lean politically does matter at least to one Central Nebraska professor.
They know the candidates names: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
And they can even tell you their political parties.
"Barack Obama is a Democrat and Mitt Romney's a Republican," said Kenzie Lewis.
That's pretty good considering these students are in just 5th grade.
They're learning about the election in school, but that's not the only place there hear the political buzz.
"TV, the internet and my parents and that kind of stuff," said Lewis.
"I kind of listen to the news sometimes and listen to my mom and dad when they're talking," Samuel Baldwin said.
And what students like Sam hear from Mom and Dad could influence how he feels about a candidate.
"I just kind of, just thought that I'd look at who I thought would make better changes," said Lewis.
Or what Kenzie thinks better changes might be.
It's why University of Nebraska at Kearney professor Jason Combs is making the rounds to Buffalo Elementary and other Kearney Public Schools.
"My assumption is they probably vote like mom and dad. They hear things at home and that's what we're going to look at - the adult population and how it votes versus how the kids vote," said Combs.
That's right, he wants the students to vote.
Each 3rd through 8th grader marks Romney or Obama - just like their parents. But that's not all. They also write down their address. So Dr. Combs can compare students votes in each precinct to the adult votes in each precinct.
"It's been interesting talking to most schools this week. A couple of the schools in Kearney in 2008 voted Obama, and some were overwhelmingly Republican," Combs said.
Dr. Combs isn't saying which candidate got the student vote at Buffalo Hills Elementary, and in the grand scheme of the election it really won't matter.
"It kind of felt like a big decision," said Baldwin.
Dr. Combs is only studying Kearney Public Schools during this election, but hopes to expand his research to Lincoln or Omaha in 2016.
And as far as the big topic for middle schoolers in Kearney and what issue could sway their vote?
Combs says it might just be how they feel about the new school lunch program.
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