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Dubuque elementary students take a crack at nomination process

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

There's no pep rally going on in the gym of Table Mound Elementary School in Dubuque, but it sure sounds like it.

More than 400 students are packed in, chanting the names of various Republican Presidential candidates.

They're here for the mock election put on during every Presidential election since 1968.

The students are dressed up to reflect the states they represent; colorful lei's for the Hawaiian delegation, cheeseheads for the Wisconsin delegation.

Fourth and fifth grade students give speeches for each candidate, touting why their economic and educational policies are the best.

It's an event students and teachers alike have spent a lot of time preparing for.  The student co-chairs of the election know the importance of what they're learning.

"So that everyone in each grade knows how we feel, what their vote means to the USA, and how important that is," said Kennedy Elskamp.

Jackson Esau agrees, "It doesn't matter if you're Democratic or Republican, you both just want to make the world a better place."

Iowa State Rep. Abby Finkenauer, (D-Dubuque) was on hand as the event's keynote speaker.  She said she was energized by the feeling in the room.

"They are excited, and I've not seen that much passion around democracy, around politics in so long. And so it was so exciting and really hopeful to see that young kids really do care about this," she said.

From beginning to end, many of the details closely mirror the Republican National Convention, which this mock election is modeled after.  Melissa Cook, a gifted and talented teacher, and one of the event's organizers, says they chose the RNC because a Democrat is in office.

She says this has been a very involved process for the students, from learning about the states they represent, to learning the candidate's views on different topics.

"I just think it's phenomenal. They're learning so much. They speak the candidate language, they talk about the process. They're excited to get their families out and do the voting," Cook said.

The students will do their actual voting Thursday morning.  Cook says she thinks Trump will win, but says you can never be sure with elementary aged students voting.

She also said there's somewhat of a curse surrounding their election.  "Hardly ever does the candidate who wins here actually win the nomination," she said.  "So, we'll see!"

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