The 2012 presidential election is more than 10 months away. We don’t even know who the Republican candidate will be, and we might not know for months. But here at Channel One News, we’re already hard at work preparing for it.
Of all the news events we cover, presidential elections are the biggest and arguably the most important. Think about it: What else affects so many other things, not only in the U.S. but around the world? Still, many teens don’t pay much attention to the election, even though it’s guaranteed to have a big impact on their lives. Who can blame them, really? If you’re under 18, the Constitution says you can’t participate.
We have other ideas. If you’re a veteran Channel One News watcher, you’ll remember OneVote, a five-day-long mock election where teens can pick the president. Way back in 2008, hundreds of thousands of our viewers chose then-Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent. The next month, of course, Obama came out on top in the real election, meaning that OneVote predicted the winner. But that was nothing new — OneVote has been right every single time since it started in 1992, before almost all our 2012 voters were even born.
So, how do you put together America’s biggest teen election? Very carefully! Hundreds of thousands of Channel One News viewers will be participating, so we can’t risk anything going wrong. In that first OneVote, our viewers sent Bill Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, to the virtual White House by mailing us stacks of paper ballots. But that was before anyone had even heard of the Internet. These days, OneVote happens online, and managing it is a huge responsibility.
We have to make sure it’s as easy as possible to participate and as hard as possible to cheat. We need to figure out what our OneVote site will look like before, during and after the mock election. And we need to guarantee that even with thousands of teens potentially voting at the same time, the website stays up and running no matter what. These are all things we’re thinking about right now. As I write this, I have a wireframe of OneVote open in another window. A wireframe is sort of a rough picture of how a website is arranged and what it does. Programmers and graphic designers use it to create something that’s useful and pretty. But it’s not ready for them yet, because there are a lot more meetings, phone calls, e-mails and private discussions to come before we’ll be satisfied enough to take that step.
The world has come a long way since OneVote started in 1992, so in 2012, we’re doing things that wouldn’t have been possible then. Long before social media such as Facebook and YouTube revolutionized our daily lives, OneVote was about you. The difference is that now we don’t just want to know what you think, we want to know why you think it. When our OneVote site goes live, you’ll have the opportunity to try out for Team OneVote, a group of politically interested teens who will contribute regularly to the show and our website. If we don’t choose you, you’ll still be able to submit your comments, blog posts and videos, and you might just see yourself featured on air or online.
Even before the website is up, you’ll start seeing OneVote reports on the show. 2012 is less than two weeks away, and you can expect election season to heat up very, very quickly, with Iowans set to vote for the Republican nominee on the first day we’re back on the air. Are you excited yet? We sure are.