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The moral is, voting counts

As far as the third-graders at Anclote Elementary School are concerned, Sleeping Beauty can keep on snoozing, and the Ugly Duckling isn't looking all that great. But Rumpelstiltskin is pure gold. Judging from the overwhelming popularity of the fairy tale at Anclote, Rumpelstiltskin might consider a career in politics.

More than 100 third-graders at Anclote learned about the process of voting Friday as they stepped into voting booths for the first time and cast ballots for their favorite fairy tales.

Although the voting choices were limited to tales of make-believe, much about the voting exercise was real. The children voted on the real thing _ the same voting machines from the Supervisor of Elections office that are used in real elections. The long yellow ballots were the same kind used in elections. The oval "I voted" stickers the pupils received were the real thing, too.

There was even some lobbying for personal favorites and even hints of voting in blocs before the voting started.

"I was going to vote for The Ugly Duckling," said 8-year-old Camilo Garcia. "But at the last minute I changed my mind." Camilo explained that he cast his ballot for the odds-on favorite, Rumpelstiltskin, as he knew many of his friends would.

Tisha Berg, 8, also went with the crowd's favorite. "Everybody likes Rumpelstiltskin," Tisha said. "Besides, I really like the part when Rumpelstiltskin gets mad."

The teachers picked fairy tales the children knew well, and some teachers had the children read the stories before the election, said teacher Donna True.

Melanie Conkel, 9, wasn't swayed by all the pre-election talk of a Rumpelstiltskin landslide and cast a vote for The Ugly Duckling. "I like it because the duckling thinks he's not special, but then he finds out he is," Melanie explained.