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Mock Presidential Election This Fall at Western Illinois University

July 30, 2007

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MACOMB, IL - - The 2008 presidential campaign trail just might include a new stop in the nation's heartland this fall (beginning Oct. 23) at Western Illinois University to participate in what may be the largest mock presidential election ever held on a college campus.

This presidential campaign is "historic and exciting," according to Rick Hardy, chair of Western's political science department and a presidential elector in the Electoral College.

"It is the first time since 1924 neither an incumbent president nor vice president will seek the Oval Office. It is also the first time in history that a woman, an African-American, a Hispanic, a person of the Mormon faith, a person three times married and the oldest candidate ever may have legitimate chances to become president of the United States," said Hardy, who is a regular consultant and political analyst for major media organizations. "The field of contenders is already large and expanding and it represents the entire ideological and political spectrums."

The mock presidential election – which will be patterned after two successful simulations Hardy conducted at the University of Iowa (1976) and the University of Missouri-Columbia (1988) – should offer an interesting perspective to the upcoming 2008 caucuses, which begin in neighboring Iowa Jan. 14, Hardy added.

"We hope to attract presidential hopefuls to campus from all parties," Hardy said.

"This event allows us to showcase what Western Illinois University is doing to promote civic engagement as part of the American Democracy Project," he added. "We believe that our mock presidential election not only will promote a better understanding of the electoral process, but also will stimulate student involvement in American politics as well. This could be the most broadly encompassing simulation of its kind ever held on any university campus."

Students from every corner of the University and multiple academic disciplines will participate in this event in a number of roles, including students in Western's First Year Experience classes as well as the College Democrats, College Republicans, College Greens and Libertarians student organizations.

Campaign managers will serve as the field generals for respective candidate camps. Field workers will be needed to promote candidates and seek votes. Editors and reporters will represent the liberal, moderate and conservative views of three onsite newspapers in operation during the event. Broadcast journalists will report live on television monitors set up in the conventions. The event also will appoint students to serve as state chairs, delegates/electors and United States senators and representatives.

"I am very excited about the opportunity this gives students from across the University," said Inessa Levi, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "This innovative approach to education is what makes Western Illinois University unique. Students will use the real world as a classroom and take away an understanding of the American democratic process that will last a lifetime."

African-American studies; art; broadcasting; the Center for International Studies; English and journalism; history; sociology and anthropology; libraries; music; philosophy and religious studies; theatre and dance; women's studies; and the Western Survey Research Center are among the departments and units that will be participating in the mock presidential election.

"Besides enabling Western Illinois students to learn about the presidential selection process, this mock convention provides a unique opportunity for Western students and faculty to work together on a common civic engagement project that cuts across all academic disciplines," said John Wozniak, sociology and anthropology department chair. "This exercise in citizenship is especially designed to get students involved in research that analyzes the dynamics of social and political interactions between the various presidential candidates and voters in each of America's 50 states."

The Western Survey Research Center's (WSRC) mission is to provide research opportunities to students and valuable services to the region.

"Working to help campaigns, government organizations and the media understand election and voter data is one of the many services we can provide," said David Rohall, WSRC director. "Students participating in the mock election events will get a broad spectrum of analysis from the center, while getting hands-on experience with election data. The center will also participate in evaluating the simulation by assessing its impact on students' sense of civic engagement and reactions from residents in the surrounding communities."

The theme for the simulation is "The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University." The mock election schedule follows:

Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Presidential Caucuses & Primaries
University Union Grand Ballroom
5-7 p.m. Democratic Party
8-10 p.m. Republican Party

Thursday, Oct. 25 – National Party Conventions: Keynote and Platform
University Union Grand Ballroom
5-7 p.m. Democratic Party
8-10 p.m. Republican Party

Tuesday, Oct. 30 – National Party Conventions: Nominate Ticket
University Union Grand Ballroom
5-7 p.m. Democratic Party
8-10 p.m. Republican Party

Thursday, Nov. 1 – Viable Third Party Conventions: Nominate Ticket
University Union Lamoine Room
5:30-7 p.m. Green Party
7:30-9 p.m. Libertarian Party

Monday, Nov. 5 – Presidential Campaign & Electoral College Vote
Western Hall
6:30-8:30 p.m. All Parties

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