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Local students: ‘Elections are confusing’

Middle-schoolers get better understanding of political system

By Alisha Roemeling

SPRINGFIELD — Students in Colin Lyons’ eighth-grade class got a crash course in politics on Monday, one day before the Nov. 6 general election.

Their consensus was that voting and elections can be confusing.

After a brief introduction to the 2018 general election, Hamlin Middle School students broke into small groups and were assigned with reading about state and local measures laid out in the Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet. Each group focused on one measure.

The groups discussed state Measures 102 through 106 as well as Measure 20-290 and were supposed to decipher what the heart of the measure was as well as the impact it would have if it passed. The class did not discuss candidates, but planned to do so on Tuesday, according to Lyons.

“This just gives them an idea of what’s going on tomorrow, Election Day, and what issues are on the table,” Lyon said.

After attempting to read theVoters’Pamphlet,most students were left feeling confused about the language and terms used in the text. “I have no idea what this means,” one student said to another.

But Lyons said that the confusion was part of the lesson itself.

“We’ll get a chance to talk about this further in later classes, and the topic will sort of focus on ‘Why is it so hard to read the pamphlet?’” Lyons said. “And why is the act of voting so complicated?’” Throughout the hourlong class, Lyons worked to translate the information into something more digestible, as it was the students’ first time learning about the measures or reading the pamphlet language.

By the end of class, some students had formed opinions about some of the measures such as Measure 105. The measure, if passed, would repeal Oregon’s 31-year-old law prohibiting the use of state and local resources to enforce federal immigration law if the individual’s only crime is being in the country illegally.

“I think I would vote against it,” said 13-yearold Esmeralda Lopez. “Because cops could just arrest people for being in the country illegally.” Follow Alisha Roemeling on Twitter @alisharoemeling.

Hamlin Middle School teacher Colin Lyons explains to students how the two-thirds majority vote would work as it relates to Oregon ballot Measure 104. Lyons and his class were debating pros and cons of the ballot measures to be decided in the election. [ANDY NELSON/THE REGISTER-GUARD]

The Register-Guard

Email alisha.roemeling@registerguard.com.

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