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Jessie Kallman, WIU's student representative to the Board of Trustees, talks to state delegates about why they should vote for her candidate.
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Josh Carrigan gives the speech for Republican hopeful Ron Paul during Super Tuesday events.
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Illinois Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) was the keynote speaker at the Oct. 25 mock Democratic Convention.
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Illinois Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) gave the keynote speech at the Oct. 25 mock Republican Convention.
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Portrayed by sociology Professor Ken Mietus, Uncle Sam has been at every simulation, a colorful reminder of America's longstanding democratic process.
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State Senator Kirk Dillard (far right), a Western alumnus and recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, joined the WIUTV-3 broadcast team of Patrick Downing and Liz Bales, along with broadcasting instructor Don Norton, to answer questions and give his political insight to viewers.
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Delegates (students) learn the process of debating, amending and approving a party's platform.
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Student Jesse Wright (left), Dr. Lisa Barr and Zachary Baker work on the first night's Real-Time News blog.
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John Hemingway, associate project director (left), and Rick Hardy, project director, chair of Western's political science department and an alumnus.
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Oct. 25 Newsmeister, the first 4-page print edition newspaper by journalism students.
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Road to the White House Logo
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State Senators, Students' Real-Time Media Efforts Add Reality to WIU's Mock Presidential Election

October 26, 2007

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Oct. 30 - National Party Conventions: Nominating Ticket
Nov.1 - Viable Third Party Conventions: Nominating Ticket
Nov. 5 - Presidential Campaign and Electoral College Vote

MACOMB, IL - - Illinois' Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) and Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) spoke from their hearts about why they believe in, and work in, their political parties at simulated Democratic and Republican National Conventions Oct. 25 in the Western Illinois University Union Grand Ballroom, which was decked out in red, white and blue banners and hats; colorful state and territory signs; a large party backdrop; and even Uncle Sam roaming the aisle.

Jacobs talked about his emigrant family and his pride in being the fourth member of his family to serve in the Illinois legislature. He encouraged students to get educated in the process of politics and presidential campaigns, to challenge the status quo and to get registered and vote. "If you don't vote, you don't exist," were Jacob's departing words.

Illinois Rep. Rich Myers (R-Colchester), a WIU alumnus, introduced Dillard, also an alumnus and a 1997 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Dillard spoke about his time as a student at Western; and how, as a 19-year-old in 1976, he became interested in the process of politics when he heard former President Ronald Reagan speak at Western.

The 15-minute speeches were part of the second evening's keynote speech and platform adoption assemblies in the five-session "The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University" mock presidential election. The education-based simulation began Oct. 23 with Super Tuesday caucuses and primaries. It continues Tuesday, Oct. 30; Thursday, Nov. 1; and concludes Thursday, Nov. 5 with the naming of the 44th President and Vice President of the United States. A complete schedule is listed below and on the web at

Students and Real-Time Media
Western Illinois' broadcasting department's WIUTV-3 is airing live coverage of the each night's events on Channel 3 in Macomb. The professional set includes two reporters and a guest spot at an anchor desk overlooking the ballroom and a floor reporter.

Approximately 15 broadcasting students work behind the scenes in each broadcast, operating cameras; working the switcher, audio board and character generator; and keeping voter statistics. Some crew members help gather information from the political camps.

About 50 journalism students are involved in reporting on the simulation on multiple media platforms: a print and online version of "News Meister" and a real-time blog.

The project got it start the second week of fall semester when English and journalism Assistant Professor Lisa Barr, who specializes in law and mass communication, held a voice vote with her two introductory reporting classes. Did the 30-plus students care to have part of their grade reliant upon their performance as journalists during "The Road to the White House?" The unanimous answer was "yes," Barr said.

Hardy and John Hemingway, associate project director, explained to the students what the simulation would involve; English and journalism Associate Professor Bill Knight tabbed junior journalism majors Chris Rogers (Macomb) and Jacob Ryan (Carol Stream, IL) and sophomore journalism major Tyler Vogler (Colchester, IL) as the real-time bloggers.

"This is basically giving our students a taste of what it would be like to cover a presidential election for a national media outlet," Barr said.

Barr, Knight and assistant professors Mark Butzow and Lisa Kernek oversee the students covering election results, guiding their work with the real-time posting and editing to a "News Meister" blog, as well as writing, editing and producing a print edition of "News Meister."

"Mark (Butzow) and Bill (Knight) are amazing copy editors. Between the four of us, there is nearly 100 years of experience - - and you haven't seen that kind of depth in most commercial newsrooms in a long, long time," Barr said.

The real-time blog, call "Real-Time News" is accessible during simulations at Updated and edited information is then placed on the "News-Meister" blog site at

Civic Engagement
"'The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University' is a collaborative effort that involves scores of faculty, staff, students, alumni and volunteers," said Rick Hardy, chair of Western's political science department and project director.

Hardy estimates some 4,000 across multiple academic disciplines, as well as those involved in recognized student political organizations, will be involved throughout the simulation. More than 70 faculty are taking an active role, any many other University and community members have volunteered their time and services. Macomb's League of Women Voters has graciously consented to serve as election judges, he added.

"This is civic engagement in action. This event allows us to showcase what Western Illinois University is doing to promote civic engagement as part of the American Democracy Project," Hardy said. "We believe that this simulation not only will promote a better understanding of the electoral process, but also will stimulate student involvement in American politics as well."

The Remaining Schedule
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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