Students at the voting stations at J. A. Laird Elementary School’s mock election. Photo by Dauna Ditson

Informed voters cast their ballots

Laird students learn about federal election process by participating in mock vote

Throngs of excited voters packed into the hallway waiting to mark their ballots. Many said they were concerned about climate change, tuition costs, health and dental care, and support for businesses.

Most said they intended to vote for the Green Party or the New Democratic Party or were torn between the two. Others were going with the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party. A few said they were exercising their right to keep their ballot choices confidential.

Regardless of which candidates and parties they supported, the student voters at J. A. Laird Elementary School could articulate how they had arrived at their decisions, a challenge that can sometimes stump grownup voters.

Cara, who was working as an election official and handing ballots to those entering the polling station, said she was going to vote for the NDP because she appreciated Jagmeet Singh’s platform.

“He’s going to put more money into child care. He’s also going to give some hospitals some money as well to help with the waits and then people get faster service. And he’s also going to help with dental care,” she said.

While her vote wasn’t counted as part of Canada’s general election, Cara’s vote and those of her elementary-school peers were tallied and presented to Elections Canada through a program the election agency offers to teach students about the political process and the democratic rights they will inherit when they reach voting age.

Cara, whose birthday is the same day as the federal election on Monday, October 21st, shared her wishes for the election.

“I just hope for the best for Canada and for everyone in our country and I just hope that we all get an incredible Prime Minister,” she said.

Tarah Armitage had her grade six class working the election, which was open to the whole school.

“They’re really engaged, which is exciting to see,” she said. “I’m really proud of them.”

She hopes her students carry their interest in politics forward and remain conscientious and informed voters throughout their lives.

As one voter left the library after dropping off her ballot, Ms. Armitage congratulated her, saying: “Good job. Thank you for exercising your democratic right.”

Student voters share their political leanings

Connor is voting Liberal because he likes what Justin Trudeau is doing and wants to ensure that Canadians continue to have equal rights.

Everett is voting Conservative because “they’re gonna lower taxes and they support small businesses.” He also is impressed with Andrew Scheer.

Nya is voting Green because “if we don’t do anything about the environment, it might get worse.”

Fritz, a polling clerk, said he didn’t think the NDP would win the federal election but he might cast his vote in support of Mr. Singh anyway.

“I just like his ideas,” he said, especially when it comes to climate change.

Keegan was deciding between going green or orange.

“I really believe in climate change and how it’s affecting the world,” he said, adding that he’s voting to “save the planet and then the adults aren’t handing down a crappy future and then we have to fix it.”

Cohen is voting for NDP incumbent Wayne Stetski.

“He’s really open and he wants to help everybody and I just like his promises,” he said. “He seems to be a pretty nice guy.”

Ella is supporting the NDP because she likes their plans to offer dental care to Canadians who can’t afford it and to switch federal vehicles to electric ones.

Amanda is voting Conservative because of their plan to provide hospitals with funding for MRI and CT machines because “they make sure that everyone’s healthy.”

Kate is keeping her vote private but is making her decision based on climate change and support for children.

Election results

Ms. Armitage made a prediction as students marked their ballots in the school library.

“I have a feeling this school will probably be Elizabeth May / Jagmeet Singh,” she said.

When the ballots were counted, Ms. Armitage’s prediction was proven correct.

“We also had a minority. It was a Green Party/NDP minority,” she said.

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