Busing Gary students to vote causing controversy

April 25, 2008 6:48:05 PM PDT
The presidential primary campaign in northwest Indiana already includes a big controversy involving high school seniors in Gary who have been taken out of school recently and bused to nearby Crowne Point to learn about early voting, and, if they're 18, to cast their own ballots. It was more of an experience, we got to see how government runs, on a one-on-one basis, more than textbook and learning materials. It was a privilege first and foremost and an honor," said Adam Brown, Gary student.

The nearby Hammond mayor and Sen. Hillary Clinton supporter says the program is a blatant attempt to help Illinois Sen. Barack Obama politically on school time and taxpayer expense because most of the students are African American and likely to vote for Obama.

"The timing is suspect. All of a sudden, they're getting the high school seniors, not just registered to vote, but taking them to vote, when they get done, taking them to lunch afterward," said Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.

Gary activists reacted to the comments with cries of racism outside Hammond City Hall.

"They'll vote and show up on Election Day, but we won't make a special half day field trip to take them to Crowne Point. It is wrong," said McDermott.

"As an educator, we look at the entire process. It was a learning experience for the children," said Pamela Sanders, Gary teacher.

Even though Obama will get most of the votes in Gary, it is said to be a toss up in Lake County, which is an equally mixed population. In fact, it looks to be a toss up in the entire state of Indiana. All of the polling in recent weeks shows the two candidates within a couple of points. So for the next ten days, they'll be all over the Hoosier State with ads because this is the end of the line, one way or the other.

The Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said today unless there's a conclusive decision in the next couple of primaries, the super delegates will look at who has the best chance of beating John McCain, regardless of who has the most votes or delegates. This state is key for both campaigns.

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