OGDEN -- The early votes are in at Two Rivers High School, and mock election polls indicate a solid lead for President Barack Obama.
Of course, many of the teen students skipped over Obama and Mitt Romney on the exit-poll form and penciled in their own names for their presidential choice.
"Maybe we should take off the write-in option," said Bryan Hatch, who teaches social studies at Two Rivers along with teachers Amy Anderson and Annette Pham.
The three teachers have been working for weeks to help the alternative high school's 150 students learn the importance of voting. An estimated million students nationwide will vote in the Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election, which has a two-week voting period ending Nov. 1. Two Rivers High School students' votes, cast through a computer program, will be added to the national total.
Two Rivers students who missed the official school vote Wednesday will fill out an absentee ballot by computer. And those who got creative with their exit polls might be encouraged to choose either Obama or Romney.
Two Rivers High students have learned about the voting process and the Electoral College through course work, lectures and in-class debates.
"We want them to get excited about voting," Hatch said. "I tell them that as a voter, I am happy to make all the decisions, but as a teacher, I encourage them to make their voices heard. The 18 to 25 age block is underrepresented in elections."
Hatch said some students complain and say the voting process seems "stupid and boring."
"But when they get closer to being 18 and eligible to vote, they take it more seriously."
Anderson said Two Rivers students also decorated several vintage, nonworking voting booths, on display in the multipurpose room. Students took quizzes on election facts, with the winners being awarded prizes.
"Our goal at Two Rivers is (to) do what it takes to get these students to be contributing members of society," Anderson said. "That means more than paying taxes. It's being an active participant."
Student Harland Wells, 17, of North Ogden, said he read up on the presidential candidates' platforms on their websites.
"I understood Obama's better," Harland said. "The fact that I couldn't understand Romney's plan scares me. My vote is for Obama."
Michael Schatz, 16, also cast his mock election vote for Obama.
"Politics isn't really big in my family," said Michael, a resident of Washington Terrace. "I'm not a fan of politics, but now I think I will definitely vote when I can."
Katlyn Haynes, 17, of Marriott-Slaterville, said she enjoyed learning about the elections and weighing the strengths of the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.
"First I thought I was a Democrat, but now I'm for Romney," Katlyn said. "Romney's all about the economy. Obama tried really hard to make the Cabinet more diverse, and I liked him bringing the troops home. But I think Romney's the one who can make a difference and fix everything, starting with the economy. And I also hope Sen. Orrin Hatch is re-elected because he wants to keep Hill Air Force Base open."