The air was electric in the library at St. Michael’s Catholic School on Thursday as students exercised their right to vote in a mock federal election for the very first time.
“I am excited to vote because it will give me a chance to see how this really works and how I can play a role in democracy, and in government,” said Anaya.
“I am looking forward to voting because it gives us a chance to speak, and our voice to be heard, our opinion, for the government,” said her classmate, Gino.
Anaya and Gino, along with their peers in Mrs. Foyle’s Grade 6 class, were in charge of running the Student Vote for 65 pupils from grades 5 to 7.
In fact, two students who were scheduled to be absent on Oct. 17 were able to exercise their right to cast a ballot by advance voting the previous day.
“We are running this like a real election,” said Mrs. Foyle. “The students have voter IDs … we have scrutineers from each party, our polling clerks, and we have our two DRO’s (Deputy Returning Officers) who will be counting the vote afterwards,” she explained.
“And we have to keep it (the tally) a secret until after the federal election. Our DRO’s can’t even tell their parents about it.”
National Student Vote Week is taking place in classrooms across the country this week. More than 1 million students are expected to cast ballots for the local candidates running in their school’s riding.
In the classrooms of St. Michael’s Catholic School, discussion about party profiles and the Prime Minister hopefuls, have been in-depth and ongoing for several weeks.
For Anaya, learning about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was of particular interest.
The most important message Gino has taken from these lessons is simple but profound.
“Remember to vote because people died for that vote,” he shared.
The Student Vote program is open to any elementary, middle or high school and there is no cost to participate. Schools may offer Student Vote to a single class or engage the entire student body.
The activities are intended to inform students about government and the electoral process, enhance information literacy skills, encourage research into the candidates and issues, and foster dialogue among students and their families.