Students at Rossland Summit School had an opportunity to cast their votes on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
While they’re too young to vote in the actual election, students from grade three and up had the opportunity to cast a ballot in the Student Vote, which is put on by CIVIX, a non-partisan charity that works to build skills and habits of citizenship among young Canadians, in partnership with Elections Canada.
Nicola Kuhn, a social studies and humanities teacher at RSS, got information about Student Vote at studentvote.ca and organized the school’s first mock election.
“They send you everything from lesson plans to the actual ballot boxes, and voting screens … and then they send you the ballots with all the local candidates on them,” she explained. “So you can go into as many lessons as you want.”
Chloe Fike, a student at RSS, said she and her classmates have been learning about the election since the beginning of the school year.
“We learned all the party platforms, and the leaders, and we went to classrooms and talked about it with other teachers, so we had to make presentations on it,” she said.
Student votes took place anywhere from Oct. 13 to 16.
“And then our counters are sworn to secrecy because to according to the Elections Canada Act, we can’t release our results until after the elections results are officially released,” said Kuhn. “We send them in to Elections Canada and they tally all the votes across Canada, and then they do a comparison, and in 2011 they were pretty close.”
In the 2011 election 166 Conservative candidates were elected to office and the party held 39.6 per cent of the popular vote. In the 2011 student vote, 130 Conservative candidates were “elected in” and the party received 30.97 per cent of the popular vote.
One of the biggest discrepancies was in the per cent of the popular vote that went to the Green party. While the party only received 3.9 per cent of the popular vote in the actual election, students gave them 17.29 per cent.
This year, the student vote once against closely matched the actual election results.
Students also elected a Liberal majority government, but with far more seats. Students voted to give the Liberals 227 seats as compared to the 184 the Liberals actually got, and gave them 37.60 per cent of the popular vote versus 39.5 per cent.
Again there was a large discrepancy in the per cent of the popular vote accorded to the Green party: 12.04 per cent from students and 3.5 per cent in the actual election.
Asked what was most important to her this election, Fike said, “I thought it was really important when they talked about the Keystone Pipeline, because I don’t really like it too much, and the raising minimum wage.”
The payoff of the Student Vote is that kids educate their parents about voting.
“Some of my students, their parents don’t vote,” said Kuhn, “and so a few of them said ‘If you come home and give me some information, I will vote,’ and so the whole idea is to increase voter turnout.”
Some of the students will also be of age four years from now, and will have the chance to vote in an actual election. Learning more about party platforms, leaders and elections now will help prepare them.
“It’s not really intimidating if they know how the process works,” said Kuhn.
Students also got a chance to see how easy voting is when Kuhn cast her ballot at the advanced polls.
“They watched me go through the process and vote,” she said. “They saw how easy it was and they asked me who I was voting for, and I said I couldn’t say until after the election because I don’t want to sway them in any direction.”
The results of the Student Vote will be released on Oct. 20, following the Canadian federal election on Oct. 19.