This month’s Pack Night was a chance to have some fun and maybe learn something along the way. With all the media attention on the Presidential election, we decided to have an election of our own! But rather than electing the leader of the free world, we were going to decide something much more important: electing your favorite candy bar.
This was an idea that explained by another participant in the “Strictly for Cubmasters” course at Philmont Training Center that I attended in the summer of 2011. I have wanted to do this for a pack meeting since then, but I thought it would have the most impact around the time of the next election.
Our election was between Kit Kat and Twix. The candy bar choice is very important, the votes are fairly evenly split between the two; when you run the voting rounds using different methods, the ‘winner’ bounces back and forth.
When planning the meeting, we selected two adults to be “campaign managers” for each candy bar. Their job was to drum up support for their candidate, passing out signs and stickers to the scouts and provide “political commercials” between each round of voting. They both did an excellent job, going over the top with excitement and props to drum up support.
We started off by talking about citizenship, elections, and the importance of participating in the voting process. There were four rounds of voting, each using a different method. Before each round we would (very briefly) talk about the pros and cons of using that method to select a winner. After votes were cast, we would have two campaign commercials while we counted the ballots, the display the results using a laptop and projector. For the commercials we kept everything positive except for one. Each side was allowed a negative ad just before the final vote. It was a hoot, I had no idea that Twix was originally called the “Raider” bar. That just won’t fly in Bronco Country!
Round One: Every Den gets one vote
This was fun because up to this point the scouts thought they were going to get to each vote for the one they wanted. As soon as we announced that they would have to vote as a den there was a definite “wait, what?” look in their eyes as they realized they would have to compromise.
Round Two: Each Den gets votes based on the number of Scouts
Then we talked about how some dens had more scouts present than others. Maybe it was more fair if they had votes proportional to the number of scouts that were present at the meeting. We gave every den one vote for every two scouts, and they could divide the vote up however they would like. I really liked the dens that split their vote evenly for each bar, effectively cancelling themselves out.
Round Three: Representative Voting
This time around we had each den select one member of the den to represent everyone. We introduced a special guest, Erik Hansen. He is the County Commissioner that represents our area. He talked to the scouts about what it means to represent a group of people, knowing that you can never vote in such a way that will please everyone every time. He explained that you had to do your best to represent your constituents and vote in the way that you felt was best for your area. Best line of the night? “A scout asked me if I supported Kit Kat or Twix, but I really like Butterfinger. Where’s the third party candidate?”
Round Four: Popular Vote
This was the round that decided everything. The winner of this round was the bar that we gave to every scout before they went home. Even if you voted for the other one, you still went home with the winner, just like how you have to live with the winning candidate regardless of how you voted. We picked up a couple of “fun sized” bags of each just before Halloween, just to make sure they didn’t disappear before we needed them.
It was a lot of fun. The scouts were excited and engaged the whole time, we got to see them struggle with compromise a few times, and they came away with a better understanding of elections. The best part was when they were trying to convince each other- signs waving, everybody talking loudly, nobody listening. It was just like an actual political convention, only shorter!