In light of the upcoming federal elections, over five hundred Garneau students decided to cast their own ballots through the Student Vote mock election on 17 October 2019. The election, which opened at around 9:30 am, gave students the opportunity to vote for a local candidate as Member of Parliament (MP) for the Don Valley West riding.
The mock election was held in the cafeteria, where three Elections Canada polling stations were set up to lend a sense of authenticity and seriousness to the event. Ballots were distributed by student volunteers, who were also responsible for recording the names of participants in order to ensure the validity of the election. Votes were tallied and reported by 18 October 2019, and results were announced on 22 October 2019.
The Student Vote results for Marc Garneau were as follows:
Rob Oliphant (Liberal): 348
Laurel MacDowell (NDP): 52
Yvonne Robertson (Conservative): 34
Amanda Kistindey (Green Party): 30
Ian Prittie (People’s Party): 13
In the week leading up to the election, SAC promoted it on various social media platforms, as well as through posters and announcements. In addition, many teachers encouraged students to research political parties and their policies by teachers, which increased the general interest in the election and allowed students to make more informed choices on election day.
“I want students to be more encouraged to vote when they turn eighteen… and to get more familiar with the voting process,” said Mr. Pearce, who has run the Student Vote program at Garneau for the past thirteen years. The program is a Canada-wide initiative organized by CIVIX, a non-partisan charity dedicated to promoting active and engaged citizenship among young Canadians. Student Vote was started in 2002 by Taylor Gunn and Lindsay Mazzucco, in response to declining voter turnouts, particularly among adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four . It has since gained the participation of over 9 500 schools; this year alone, over 1 million students across Canada are expected to cast their ballot .
Many students appreciated the effort made to involve students with politics, as most were unfamiliar with the local MP candidates prior to the mock election, and recognized the importance of getting involved with politics early. “I think students need to cast their ballots if they want to be a major target of politicians,” said Mohamed Dasu, a Grade 12 student at MGCI. He added, “If we want a say in how society functions, then we should understand that we are the loudest when we vote.”
It is important that everyone’s voices are represented in the upcoming election, so remind family members and friends over the age of eighteen to cast their vote at their local polling station on 21 October 2019.