While mail-in ballots still needed to be counted for the federal election, the votes have already been tallied in the unofficial Student Vote.
Students in grades four to eight voted in the Student Vote, which is a collaboration between CIVIX and Elections Canada. The program has run during every election since 2004. This year the students reelected Liberal Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister with 117 seats. He was followed by the NDP’s Jugmeet Singh with 107 seats, the Conservatives with 91, Bloc Quebecois with 20 seats and the Green Party received three unofficial seats.
“We get an actual ballot box, actual Elections Canada screens for us to execute it,” teacher at Macaulay Public School Mike Fry tells the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom. He adds the ballots they get look just like the reals. “They make it legit,” he says.
All 338 electoral districts were represented, including Parry Sound-Muskoka. Students in our region reelected Conservative Scott Aitchison, who received 31.33% of the vote. The NDP’s Heather Hay came in second with 27.04%, Marc Mantha of the Green Party was third with 18.62%, Liberal Jovanie Nicoyishakiye got 12.26% of the vote, the People’s Party of Canada’s James Tole got 7.57%, James Fawcett of the National Citizens Alliance of Canada got 1.92% and Independent Daniel Predie Jr. was last with 1.26% of the vote. “We did have the odd student that might have voted for themselves,” Fry says, laughing.
Grade five student Zack Allsopp says some students had jobs to do while their classmates voted. He explains a handful of students acted as “runners” and went and got each class when it was their time to vote, others were “greeters” who waited at the entrance to the polling station (classroom) to explain to each student what they needed to do before another group of students handed them a ballot with each Parry Sound-Muskoka candidate on it. There were even “bodyguards,” as Allsopp put it, watching over the voting screens.
Fry says about 165 students took part from six classes between grades four and eight. “It’s quite an event,” he says, adding it will be interesting to see how closely these votes line up with how the adults vote.
Raelyn Veitch is a grade four student and says she didn’t know much about the election and the issues the candidates were debating until she learned about them in class. Once she did, education quickly became the issue she’s most concerned about. “Because it will help out when you’re older,” she says.
“I was paying attention,” Allsopp says of the news. Once he was told he would vote, he made sure to pay close attention to the news and talk with his parents to learn about the issues. “I was interested in the entire thing,” he goes on to say.
Now that it’s over, Allsopp says he plans to pay closer attention to the news, adding he’s glad he learned about the Canadian government and how to vote well in advance of him turning 18 and being able to officially cast a ballot.
Veitch says the whole process was exciting. Now that it’s over though, do you plan to sit down with your parents every night and watch the news? “I don’t know, we never really watch the news,” she bluntly says, eliciting a laugh from Fry. “I appreciate the honesty,” he says.