M&M Poll: Area voters still undecided

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    SPARTA-Sparta residents do not have to wait until November to cast a vote in the upcoming presidential election. A special pre-election is being held at a local business, where people of all ages can vote as many times as they wish. Photographs, Cameras, and Videos located in the Theatre Plaza, is hosting a rather unusual but accurate poll of the political sentiments of the people in the area. The store has set up a three compartment vending machine filled with M&M candy. Each compartment is labeled with the name of one of the major presidential candidates, President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry. The third compartment is for undecided voters. It costs 25 cents to "cast" a sweet vote. Store owner Garry LaFranco came up with the idea 12 years. Since then, the store's unofficial poll has matched the national decision in the past three presidential elections. "It's almost funny to keep track, but that's the whole point of this," said LaFranco about tallying the votes. He said that he holds the election for two reasons. One is for the pure enjoyment of his customers, who often discuss politics around election time, and two, so he can give all of the money raised at the election to a local charity. This year, LeFranco will give the money to Pass-It-Along, a community action group based in Sparta. "It's a situation where stuffing the ballot box is a good thing," said LeFranco. "Keep popping the quarters in frequently so we can send some decent money over to Pass-It-Along when this is over." As of Monday afternoon, 503 votes had been cast. Two-hundred and eleven voters were undecided, 166 voted for Bush, and 126 for Kerry. "Some people who vote just have a hearty laugh and enjoy the fun of it," said LeFranco. "And there are people who take it very seriously, which gets me laughing because our idea is just to have fun with the whole ordeal." The results form the M&M election will be tallied and posted before Nov. 2. According to LeFranco, his M&M poll also serves as an important civic lesson for area children. "They look at the candy level and try to guess who's winning," said LeFranco. "They actually put thought into which machine they take the candy from." He added that his unofficial election should serve as a reminder to all of those over the age of 18 to "get out and serve their civic duty." "Politics is many times distasteful, but at least with this election, there is something sweet added in," said LeFranco.