MANITOULIN—Students across Manitoulin joined over 800,000 students from over 6,000 schools across Canada last week, learning about the election process and casting their ‘would be’ ballot in the federal election.

Based on the overall results from the six schools that participated, NDP MP Candidate Carol Hughes was voted the winner.

At Lakeview School in M’Chigeeng students in Grades 5 through 8 had the opportunity to vote, with Ms. Middleton’s Grade 5 class running the election. The NDP won the school vote with 19 votes, followed by the Liberals with 17, the Green Party with two and zero votes for the Conservative Party.

“The voter turnout was great and the students were really excited to vote,” said Ms. Middleton.

At Manitoulin Secondary School,  students in Ms. Heinen’s civics class wrote morning announcements to inform the students of the various candidates in our riding, with soundbites of information of what each party had to offer to teenagers.  They also created meme style posters to encourage student voting, to blitz the school the day before the vote to boost voter turnout.  “On the voting day (Tuesday, October 13) students took on the roles of polling clerk, scrutineers, and deputy returning officer,” explained Ms. Heinen.

Grade 5 C.C. McLean School poll clerks Colton Chevrette and  Jenna Shank check the registration cards of Grade 7/8 students Mickey Deeg, Sheyenne Ingram, Zachary Carr and Abbie Harper. photo by Heather Jefkins
Grade 5 C.C. McLean School poll clerks Colton Chevrette and
Jenna Shank check the registration cards of Grade 7/8 students Mickey Deeg, Sheyenne Ingram, Zachary Carr and Abbie Harper.
photo by Heather Jefkins

“We enjoyed doing the vote, we liked that people came up to vote,” said student poll clerk Carly Murphy-Rankin.

Fellow poll clerk Rachel McDowell  enthusiastically called students over to vote. She said, “I liked watching people coming up to vote and crossing their names off.”  Less than 20 percent of MSS students opted to cast a ballot in the lunchtime vote.  This low turnout generated some discussion amongst Mrs. Heinen’s civics class. “Forcing people to vote would not be fair, but it would be nice to have more people vote,”  said Emily Moggy.

The winning party at MSS was the NDP with 46 percent of the votes, followed by the Liberals with 28 percent, the Conservatives with 12 percent, the Green Party with 10 percent and the RHINO party with four percent.

Central Manitoulin Public School’s (CMPS) Grade 8 students participated in the Student Vote program. The Conservatives were in first with 12 votes, followed by the Liberals with nine votes, the NDP with five votes and the Green Party with zero votes.

Seventy-seven students from Grades 4-8 participated in the Student Vote at C.C. McLean Public School vote, organized by Heather Jefkins’ Grade 4/5 class.

The NDP was the winner with 47 votes, followed by the Liberals with 14 votes, the Green Party with eight and the Conservatives with seven. There was also one rejected ballot.

“My students were engaged in the election preparation process,” said Ms. Jefkins. “They were interested in what the parties represented and who was running both locally and for prime minister. I am very proud of their efforts, and with their confidence in their right to be part of the election process. They encouraged other classes and there was a lot of discussion about when the election was, and who they thought they might like to vote for. Overall the Student Vote process was an excellent experience for my class, and for our entire junior/intermediate division.”

At Pontiac School in Wikwemikong, 98 students voted from Grade 5 to Grade 8. It was a close election with 36 votes for the NDP and 35 votes for the Liberals. The Green Party came in third with 19 votes and the Conservatives with eight.

“There was a lot of interest in the election and the students have been following it closely,” said Grade 7 teacher Nelson Wood.

At Assiginack Public School, 23 students voted NDP, 11 Conservative, six Green Party and five Liberal.

Student Vote is a parallel election for students under the voting age, coinciding with the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal elections.

“The purpose is to provide young Canadians with an opportunity to experience the voting process firsthand and build the habits of informed and engaged citizenships,” states the Student Vote website. “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.”

Schools that register for the program are provided with ballots listing local candidates, ballot boxes and polling stations, making the experience as real as possible.

Student vote is the flagship program of CIVIX and is partnered with Elections Canada to provide the Student Vote program free to schools during the 2015 federal election.

“Voter turnout in Canada has been declining for decades at all levels of elections, particularly among young people,” states the Student Vote Website as to the importance of the program. “Studies have also shown that habits of voting and non-voting persists over time, so it young people don’t vote now, there is good reason to believe that they won’t become voters later in life. By practicing the habits of informed and engaged citizenship at an early age, students will be more inclined and prepared to participate in our democracy when they graduate high school.”

For more about Student Vote and to see national results in the Federal election visit www.studentvote.ca.