Students at Mount Douglas Secondary took to the polls on Friday for a mock federal election.
The event was organized by a group of 10 student volunteers from Carrie Ann Taylor’s Grade 10 social studies challenge class – an accelerated course open to advanced students.
The students had been planning for two weeks. Teachers signed their classes up for voting time slots throughout the day and students could choose to participate or not, explained organizer Emily Wang. Other students dropped by during spare blocks. Some 300 students voted and selected from the candidates in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding as that’s where the school is located.
The student organizers prepared information pamphlets and posters for their peers so that they could make informed decisions, Wang explained. Most students took the election seriously, she said.
Student elections were held across Canada for kids in Grades 4 through 12. The elections are voluntary and take place in schools with a teacher sponsor. This year, more than 9,500 schools across the country registered for Student Vote which is run by the non-profit organization Civix and sponsored by Elections Canada.
All the ballots and boxes look just like the ones used in the real election, Taylor explained. She noted that the goal is to engage youth and have at least 1 million students vote this year.
Organizer Hannah Cha feels that the student elections prepare youths to be “active citizens” who engage in democracy.
Fellow volunteer Lucy Zhang agreed, especially with some B.C. municipalities considering lowering the voting age to 16 – which she thinks is a good idea because decisions made today will affect her and her peers.
Taylor noted that once the polls closed at 2 p.m., two student organizers, Cha and Adrianna Milley, took all the ballots to a secure location to count and report the results to Civix. After the real federal election results are released, the results of the national student election will also be made public. Taylor feels the results are important for politicians because they show what the next generation cares about.
“People assume youth are disengaged, but this is a pretty engaged generation,” she said.
Wang agrees. Kids care about the environment and they’re mad about the state of the economy, she explained.
“[Adults] had better start listening to kids,” said Cha, who is excited to vote in a real election in a few years. “We’re coming for you.”