You’re never too young to get involved in civic politics.
Students across Saskatchewan proved that on Tuesday as they cast mock ballots in their own municipal races.
The point is to educate children on how the electoral process works.
“It’s incredibly important,” said Gillian Strange, a Grade 8 teacher at Greystone Heights School in Saskatoon. “If you light a fire under them now, when they turn 18 or 20 they might go and vote at that time.”
Strange went from class to class at the school, helping Grade 7 and 8 students through their own mock elections.
Each class assigned a student as the returning officer, while others were chosen to be ballot scrutineers and poll clerks.
“I was actually surprised,” said Grade 7 student Arnica Khaton, who was selected by her classmates to be the returning officer.
“They all trust me.”
Students were given research projects leading up to the mock vote.
They looked up each candidate’s platforms and were asked to identify key issues in the campaign.
They also looked at the results of the 2012 municipal election and the results surprised a few students.
“Only a third of people voted,” said Kai, a Grade 7 student at Greystone. “It’s kind of shocking to me that no-one wants to take initiative and go vote.”
Strange said after they realized how low turnout was in 2012, students were eager to convince adults to get out to the polls this time around.
“They’ve made flyers and put them in mailboxes, they’ve gone out to the malls to get people to vote,” she said.
Most of Greystone’s Grade 7 and 8 students are planning to be out in public on Wednesday, voting day, to ask people if they still have yet to cast their ballot.
MOCK ELECTIONS FREE FOR SCHOOLS
More than 10,000 students were expected to cast ballots across 80 municipalities in the province on Tuesday.
The province-wide initiative was organized by CIVIX, a national charity that provides student learning opportunities revolving around civic responsibilities.
Each participating school was provided with official Elections Canada polling boxes, voting booths and ballots. The ballots were specialized based on the municipality and ward each school was located in.
Students were also provided with mock ID cards, where they were asked to write down basic information and draw a picture of themselves.
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) October 25, 2016
The materials were provided free-of-charge due to funding from both the provincial and federal governments.
The results of the student vote will be made public after official polling booths close Wednesday evening.