On Thursday, 15 October, students all across Canada were given the chance to vote. Polling stations were set up in the cafeteria, and students could vote for a candidate in the riding of Don Valley West. Out of the school’s 1 800 students, 497 voted.
Mr. Pearce, a Social Sciences teacher in the school, has spearheaded the campaign for several years now. He commented on the importance of student awareness of the political system. “I think it’s really important to get students involved in the government early, because they are the future. Having an idea of the different values and platforms of each party will make them more aware citizens in the future, as well as more responsible human beings as a whole.” He believes that having the chance to vote is important, because it helps students have their voice heard. It is the student’s way of sending a message to the public.
Mr. Pearce also explained the relationship between youth and adult voting rates. “If students get involved early, they will be more likely to vote in the future. Candidates and ridings that have a higher number of voter turnout are often heard more in Ottawa. Their community will be represented with stronger opinions.”
To avoid influencing the results of the official election, the results were kept confidential until the federal election results had been released on Monday, 19 October. For the school, the leading party was the Liberal party, with 212 students voting for Rob Oliphant. Syeda Riaz, of the NDP, came in second with 133 student votes.
The results of the student vote were similar to that of the official vote. In the Don Valley West riding, Rob Oliphant was elected into the house of commons with 54% of the votes. Conservative candidate John Carmichael came in second place with 38% of the votes, and Syeda Riaz came in third with 6% popularity.
In retrospect, Mr. Pearce said that the voter turnout for this election was higher than normal. However, with approximately 25% of students voting, he would like to increase publicity prior to voting next time. More than 850,000 votes were reported from over 6,000 schools, representing all 338 federal ridings. By practicing good citizenship from an early age, youth all over Canada will learn to care more about our political systems thus leading to a more informed population in the future.