Duncan Cran Elementary School students got a taste of the democratic process Tuesday afternoon, participating in a mock election featuring real Elections Canada ballots and ballot boxes.
Dan Davies, a Grade 6 teacher, organized the activity for the students in order to get kids engaged in and accustomed to the voting system.
“It gets them involved, it gets them excited, and if you can kind of capture those things at this age, hopefully there’s two things that might happen. A) They may continue that and become a voter and participate in that democratic process, but more importantly, they might go home and go to Mom and Dad and say, this was really cool, can I come with you on election day and vote?” he said.
“To see the reality of it, like to go into the polling station, to see the workers, and to get that excitement to see, hey, this is democracy, this is how it works. So that’s the drive here, and that’s why I’m excited about it.”
Voter turnout for federal, provincial and municipal elections has been going down, Davies said.
“Hopefully we can start to turn the ship around and get the voter turnout back up.”
The students, who researched the parties in the weeks leading up to voting day, were excited by the opportunity to cast their own ballots.
“I think it’s important, because well, they get to choose who they want. It’s what they want,” said Alexandria Burton, a Grade 5 student.
Avneet Jainpuri, also in Grade 5, chimed in: “It’s like choosing what’s better for you.”
Josh Quiring, in Grade 4, said he voted the same way his parents voted. He plans to participate in the democratic process and vote in the real election when he’s old enough.
“If there’s no one in charge, there’s no rules,” he said.
There were 120 students at Duncan Cran who cast their ballots. They’re tallied up, and Davies will phone the results to Ottawa, where they’re tabulated along with every other school participating in the nation-wide parallel election program.
The results, however, can’t be released until after the election. The rule was put in place by Elections Canada out of a fear the student results will influence the actual election.
The Student Vote program is for students under the voting age that coincides with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal elections.
Since 2003, 26 Student Vote programs have been conducted across Canada.
In the last federal election, 563,000 students cast ballots from 3,750 schools. This week, 700,000 students across the country are expected to cast their vote.