Posted: 15th May 2015

Students and staff in Clongowes are well used to Mock Exams but last week they were surprised by the presence of a polling station on the Ref’ corridor complete with returning officers and a polling booth as Ms. Dooley’s second year C.S.P.E class took the temperature of the college to see what way the wind might be blowing nationally on same sex marriage and the lowering of the minimum age of presidential candidates next week. Fledgling Political Correspondent Stephen McAleese filed this report, while Analyst David Gannon crunched the numbers…

On Friday 8th May in advance of the upcoming national plebiscite a mock referendum took place in Clongowes, hosted by Ms. Dooley’s second year C.S.P.E class for their Junior Cert action project. Prior to the day, emails were sent around the school and posters were put up around the walls to raise awareness of the event. After preparing the polling station outside the refectory with tables, a polling booth, ballot cards and pens ready, the voting began at around 12:45. Passing teachers, members of staff and students walking into the refectory were asked to cast their votes on two topics: whether same sex marriage should be recognized under the state and whether the minimum age of presidential candidates should be reduced from 35 years to 21. The voters were given ballot cards, which they could then complete in secrecy within the polling booth.

Meanwhile the returning officers marked off names on the register and frantically organized and distributed the polling cards. In reality elections are much less frenzied as there is usually more time on the day to vote. Once filled out the cards were put into the ballot box and stored safely for counting the next day. On Saturday, the ballot box was emptied and the cards divided among the students and counted. The total number of votes cast and number of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes were then calculated and the spoilt votes separated. After the votes were counted and recounted, we found that the majority of voters voted ‘yes’ on same sex marriage and ‘no’ on the lowering of the minimum age of presidential candidates. Overall the mock referendum was a great success and an enjoyable learning experience. We would like to thank everyone for taking part and we learned on how we can improve in the future.

Stephen McAleese

This morning our whole class started counting all of the votes and within 40 minutes we had the results. In total we had 408 votes for the same sex marriage referendum. There were 217 ‘yes’ votes, 169 ‘no’ votes and 22 votes were spoilt, which brings us to the conclusion that that – if this were replicated in the real referendum – this amendment would be passed.

For the second amendment concerning the minimum age of the President we had 321 votes in total, 25 of which were spoilt, 119 of which were ‘yes’ with 177 ‘no’ votes, which means that – if this were replicated in the real referendum – this proposal would not be written into the constitution and would not become law.

David Gannon

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