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Student voters have real world experience

Courtney Lutz isn't old enough to vote in Monday's federal election, but she's no stranger to the democratic process.
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Courtney Lutz fills out a ballot during Dawson Creek Secondary's Student Vote Wednesday. Lutz and a dozen other classmates are working with Elections Canada on Election Day.

Courtney Lutz isn't old enough to vote in Monday's federal election, but she's no stranger to the democratic process.

Not only did Lutz help organize a mock vote at Dawson Creek Secondary, she and around a dozen of her Civics 11 classmates are working for Elections Canada on election day. If you vote in Dawson Creek Oct. 19, chances are she'll hand you your ballot.

"It's a lot of paperwork I have to do, but I'm really excited," said Lutz, 16. On Wednesday, she got a taste of that work during Dawson Creek Secondary's Student Vote.

More than 300 students at the school cast ballots in Wednesday's vote, which is organized by the non-partisan civic education group CIVIX Canada. Around 7,500 schools across Canada will send their results to CIVIX, which will determine the composition of the next parliament based on the under-18 vote.

Civics 11 teacher Eric Wolf said it's important to get students familiar with the process early.

"Even though many of them complain about this not counting towards a real vote, going through the process—signing their name, getting their ballot and filling it out and putting it in the box—it's identical to the real vote," he said. "When they do a real vote, they're not scared."

The results of the vote will not be released until Monday. In the meantime, students speculated about who would win among their peers.

Lutz said she expected a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, saying she leaned towards the former.

"Our local riding is more Conservative, and parents have a lot of influence on their kids so they'll probably vote Conservative," she said. 

Jarred Sellmeyer, 16, said he gave his vote to Conservative incumbent Bob Zimmer.

"It's something I've been raised around," he said.

"I've gone on all the websites, and I've liked what they've had to say."

He added he was concerned about the impact of an NDP government on oil and gas. 

"Conservatives are all for oil and gas, and that'll help our economy grow," he said.

Rachelle Petrick, who is also working as a poll clerk, said she expected the school to lean Liberal. 

"Our town is pretty hardcore Conservative, but I think in the school it will be Liberal just cause it's a younger group. I think it'll be pretty close."

reporter@dcdn.ca