Students aim to predict election outcomes

Sussex County students will again have a chance to receive scholarship monies by predicting the outcome of federal, state and local elections. County Council voted on Tuesday for the fourth time this decade to approve its Election Year Scholarship Contest.

Students who are 18 or younger and live in Sussex County can participate for a chance to receive the first-place $200 prize or five runner-up $100 prizes. Each councilman donated $100 for the contest and the Griffin & Hackett law firm donated $200.

“This is a novel way to get young people involved in our nation’s democratic process,” county Finance Director Dave Baker said in a Tuesday news release. “This encourages them to look at a number of races in the November election, and then try to forecast, as best they can, who will emerge as the winners in those races. It’s a great civics lesson, but it’s also a chance to have a little fun, too,” he added.

Students who wish to participate should visit and click on the link for the election contest. Registration requires basic information, and participants can predict winners and submit those predictions through the Web site. Predictions are due by 7 a.m. on Election Day, Nov. 7.

The student who predicts the most winners out of the 17 races included in the contest will receive the grand prize. Students are also asked to predict the number of votes the winner of the Senatorial race will receive, and that question serves as a tiebreaker. In the last contest, the tiebreaker asked for the percentage of the vote, but that didn’t work because many participants picked the same percentage, county officials said Tuesday.

More than 500 students participated in the last contest, and more than 400 competed in the previous one, County Director of Information Systems Eddie Sparpaglione told council and those present at Tuesday’s meeting. And some are already looking forward to this year’s contest, said Councilman Vance Phillips, to whom county officials gave credit for starting the contest.

“I’ve gotten a lot of interest again this year,” Phillips said Tuesday.

The races that students will be attempting to predict include ones for the 38th district State House of Representatives seat between Republican Incumbent Gerald Hocker, who will be seeking his third term in November, and Democrat Challenger Robert Maddex. Participants will also attempt to predict the outcome of the controversial Sussex County sheriff’s race between current Sheriff Robert Reed and challenger Eric Swanson, a former Delaware State Police official.

Fourth District County Councilman George Cole is also up for re-election. He is running against Independent Party of Delaware candidate Wolfgang Von Baumgart.

The State Senatorial 20th district race should be easy to predict, with Sen. George H. Bunting (D–20th) running uncontested. But the federal races should be far more difficult to correctly predict. Rep. Mike Castle (R–DE) is running against Democrat Dennis Spivack, Green Party candidate Michael Berg and Independent Karen Hartley-Nagle. U.S. Sen. Tom Carper is up against Libertarian William Morris and Republican Jan Ting.

Other races of which students will be asked to predict the outcome include those for state attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor of accounts and nine other state representative spots.