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Over 31,000 Saskatchewan students cast votes in mock Canada election

A student casts a vote in a mock election. File / Global News

The results are in and, despite not actually being eligible to vote, students from Saskatchewan and across the country have elected a Liberal minority government.

Youth from nearly 5,500 Canadian schools cast 740,515 ballots in this year’s student vote — a program that has been holding mock elections in elementary and high schools in tandem with municipal, provincial and federal elections since 2003.

CIVIX, Elections Canada. CIVIX, Elections Canada

Just over 830 Saskatchewan schools participated this year, with students casting 31,507 of those votes in their respective electoral districts.

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Similar to the real deal, the students gave the Liberals the most seats at 117. The NDP received 107 seats in the mock election while the Conservatives picked up 91.

Read more: University of Lethbridge students, professor on getting more young people to vote in federal election

“We did a lot of discussing beforehand about what makes a leader, and what their priorities would be as a leader,” École St. Elizabeth School teacher Leanne Tremblay said in Regina, whose Grade 6/7 class participated in the vote.

“Even before learning about the different party platforms, the vast majority of my kids already had those ideas as their own priorities. They took it super seriously. We were only going to watch half the debate and they wanted to watch all of it.”

Tremblay said that while most students in her school voted NDP, her class gave the most votes to the Liberal Party.

She said she thinks the trend is a result of some of the campaign materials reviewed in the lead-up to voting day.

“I think my class maybe would have voted majority NDP if they hadn’t disliked how the NDP leader took down (Justin) Trudeau quite a bit in his ads. When we had originally talked about what makes a good leader we talked about how kicking others down isn’t a good way of doing that.”

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Read more: What’s behind low voter turnout in Canada’s election? Experts seek answers

That’s the kind of engagement the program strives to create, according to a spokesperson with CIVIX — the Canadian non-profit that administers the student vote program in partnership with Elections Canada.

“The goal is to create informed and lifelong voters,” CIVIX rep day program manager Ruth Matthew said.

“Through the student vote process, students are able to research candidates, have dialogue and then cast a ballot. Going through that demystifies the process and fosters positive voting habits from a young age.”

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