Student Vote is run by Elections Ontario and CIVIX, a non-partisan, national registered charity dedicated to building the skills and habits of active and engaged citizenship among young Canadians. Student Vote is essentially a mock vote for students under the age of 18.
A week before the vote, students had an assembly to learn proper voting methods and explain the political spectrum. Students were encouraged to research the candidates and the party’s political platform. Over the course of the following week, there were class visits to remind students about voting methods and to answer any questions.
On the day of the vote, students from the law class set the library up like a real voting station; students from the class supervised, signed the classes in and conducted the vote exactly as a real voting station would. Each student participating in the process were required to sign in with their school-issued I.D. while a member of the law class crossed off their name and handed them a ballot. From there, students went to one of the four polling stations and selected their candidate. The marked ballot was then put into the ballot box and students went back to class.
DOM was one of the only schools (and the only secondary school) in the Muskoka-Parry Sound riding participating in this initiative. Including students in the political process and engaging students was the main focus for one of the chief returning officers (CRO) and the student who headed the student vote, Richard Phillip. “I chose to organize this project because of my own passion for Canadian politics and community and societal involvement,” he said. “My biggest hope was to extend that passion to others and hopefully inspire other people to be as involved in society. I feel that if people are to possess a sense of civic duty, then it’s best to start that process when we’re at a critical age for reasoning. I also thought it would be a lot of fun to do the project, and my classmates in Mr. Forester’s CLU3M class thought it was pretty fun too.”
The students who participated in the vote did other activities as well. One teacher stated that her class were taking quizzes about the political parties and researching what party they align with and would like to vote for. Meanwhile, 117 students out of 178 students at DOM participated and voted on Wednesday.
The votes were tabulated and the leading parties included the Green Party of Ontario’s Matt Richter with 23 votes, the New Democratic Party (NDP) with 32 votes, and winning by 3 points was the Progressive Conservatives with current M.P.P Norm Miller.
The student vote encourages young people to be active in Canadian politics and inspire them to be involved in their communities. Additionally, and most importantly, it gives students a tangible way to experience and evaluate our democratic system.