Students at Riverview High School spent their second-period class Friday casting ballots as part of a mock election.
While the youth voters won’t be able to have their voices heard in Monday’s federal election, many say it’s a great way to educate and continue to engage them in politics.
“It was really cool seeing how much everyone really cares about the election because people mostly think about teenagers, like, they don’t care much about politics,” says Tryn Long, a grade 12 student and one of the organizers. “But the amount of people we had (vote) shows that we really do.”
More than one million students from elementary to high school across all 338 federal ridings are taking part in Student Vote Canada.
“This is really essential,” says Gabrielle Rogers, a teacher at the school. “Part of our global competencies is civism and citizenship and building global citizens who are engaged in the world around them, be it politics or otherwise.”
A candidates’ panel was held at R.H.S. earlier this week, where students had some questions compiled to ask local candidates from the ridings of Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe and Fundy Royal.
There are signs posted around the school to remind students of their options and provide some information about candidates.
“I really disagree with the idea that they’re not old enough to understand what’s going on. They see their world, they interact with it and they want to have their voice heard, they want to say something about it,” says Rogers. “Studies have also shown that when students participate in student votes or in student-led election activities, they’re more likely to vote as adults.”
Approximately 1,100 students attend Riverview High School.
The mock election is modeled off the upcoming federal election, allowing students to learn the process of casting ballots.
In the first election where millennials hold the largest voting bloc, the emphasis on young voters continues to grow.
“(Millennials) can have a huge impact and they can almost sway the election,” says Meghan Boudreau, another grade 12 student.
She, along with several other students, will be volunteering their time and working on election night.
For Alexandria Carson, a student who admits politics wasn’t her strength before helping with the mock election, suggests whether you’re eligible to vote this year or not, to “just participate.”
“I’ve learned so much and I’ve met so many people who have different opinions and people who have been able to explain different things to me that I would not have learned otherwise.”
Ballots cast in the mock election won’t be totaled until after Monday to prevent any chance of influencing people voting in the federal election.
But according to Rogers, the results will be shared with Elections Canada and the local candidates to show what the future voters have on their minds.