Learning to cast their ballot

Students at Nakusp Secondary School learn what it's like to vote

Students at Nakusp Secondary School got a taste of something they’ll be allowed to do once they turn 18: Vote.

A mock vote was held at the school on Oct. 15 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Students from Miss Alex Loewen’s Social Studies 11 B class officiated over the vote.

“I received some promotional material from Elections Canada, and it was also recommended from some other teachers who had success with it,” Loewen said. “I thought I’d try it out.”

Students each had a role in the process and implementation of the project.

Loewen walked her class through what was going to happen before calling the students down, class by class, to the library.

Once there, they lined up single file and were explained how the process was going to go. Some of the younger students required step-by-step instructions.

Everything that would happen on a real election day happened at the school. Students gave their name, and were given a ballot. The polling clerks put their initials on the ballots to prevent any kind of rigging. They then went behind an Elections Canada screen and made their choice. Once they folded their ballot, they took it to the ballot box, where they showed it to another set of polling clerks to make sure it was folded in the proper way and had the initials on it. They were then able to put it in the ballot box and cast their vote.

Many students thought it was an interesting way to get them involved in the electoral process.

“I though that you really had to do your research in order to know who you actually wanted to vote for,” said student Brianna McCoi.

McCoi said currently, she doesn’t have much interest in the whole process, but does plan on voting when she comes of age.

“We’re growing up, and this is going to be our world, and we’ve got to vote for who we want. We’ve got to think about what kind of world and country we want to live in, and we have to vote for who is going to give us that.” she said.

Once the polls closed, the ballot box is sealed up until the votes are counted. Two people counted the ballots. One pile is created for each party. Spoiled votes, one that have been folded incorrectly, have more than one person marked off, etc., were put off to the side. Votes were counted a second time to ensure results were the same.

Loewen thought the program was good, because it’s a learning opportunity for the mechanics of how to vote, not just why we vote, or whom we vote for, but how to show up, and how to mark the ballot.

“I think it will be something where they’re more comfortable with the process, and so they’re just more familiar with how to do it.” she said.

Another potentially positive outcome for this project is it could possibly get the parents involved in voting.

“Studies also show that the parents of kids who participate in this program tend to have a higher voter turnout, and it’s more likely that they will vote in the future when they’re at age,” said Loewen.

Following the Election Canada Act, results are confidential until the closing of the polls on Oct. 19.

Of the 167 students at the school, 91 voted, a total of 54 per cent.