Students across Canada agreed with adults in the federal election, giving the Liberals another minority mandate in Student Vote Canada – albeit a much smaller mandate.
More than 600 votes were cast for Richmond Centre candidates by Richmond Secondary students last week in Student Vote.
They were joined by a couple dozen other schools in the riding and, in the end, “elected” Liberal Wilson Miao with more than 27 per cent of the vote.
In the neighbouring riding, Steveston-Richmond East, the NDP’s Jack Trovato would have been elected, if it had been up to students who gave him 34 per cent of their votes.
Student Vote, organized by the non-partisan charity Civix, mirrors elections and students vote in their riding for the candidates on the ballots in the actual election.
Civix is an “outstanding organization” that helps students learn about voting, said Richmond Secondary social studies teacher Cindy Ho. Her school has been taking part over several election cycles.
“Statistics show that if youth don’t vote in their first election, they will most likely not vote in subsequent elections,” Ho said.
She wants her students to be more engaged with the democratic process so they learn how to vote in preparation for when they can participate in actual elections.
Typical barriers to voting – like motivation, access and lack of knowledge - can be reduced by taking part in Student Vote.
“Voting is habit forming – we want kids to show up and we want youth to show up in subsequent elections,” Ho said.
Youth are a large demographic, she added, and if they don’t vote, the laws of the country won’t reflect their values.
Furthermore, Richmond has a unique demographic, Ho said, as many families come from countries where the democratic freedom of elections doesn’t exist, so it’s important school models how to vote.
As soon as the election was called this summer, Ho and teacher-librarian Betty Chung started texting each other – even though school was still out – to figure out how to do Student Vote.
Bios of the candidates were posted in the hallways for students to get to know the candidates.
Serena Chin, who’s in Grade 10, was a “poll clerk” at Student Vote – she checked names and handed out ballots.
She said she was “honoured” to be part of the process.
It’s important to choose a candidate who best represents your interests, opinions and standpoint, Serena explained.
“It’s up to the citizens to determine what our future looks like, Serena said.
She said she educated herself by going to “credible resources online” to learn about whom to vote for.
More than 700,000 students in high schools and elementary schools across Canada took part in the election and collectively cast 740,515 votes in 5,478 schools.
In the end, they would have given the Liberals 117 seats - preliminary results show the Liberals achieving 158 seats in the federal election - and 107 seats to the NDP, which would have made them the official opposition.
In fact, preliminary results give the Conservatives 112 seats, to place them as the opposition, and the NDP, 25.
Sophia Adams, who is in Grade 11, said high school is the “prime age” to learn about politics and how to get involved in the community and influence the future.
She had read up on the candidates and their platforms using information from her teacher as well as the Richmond News.
“I think you should vote for whoever you believe in 100 per cent – I think it’s our right to influence society with our voting,” Sophia said.
Emma Chiew said Student Vote was a good simulation of voting and its process.
She said she knows many people who don’t vote because none of the parties align with their views, but she thinks they should cast a ballot any way.
“I believe voting is very important and we should do everything in our power to ,if we have the right and ability to,” Emma said.
There are many reasons why people don’t want to vote, and many say their one vote doesn’t matter, but she doesn’t agree with that viewpoint.
“I really strongly believe that every single vote matters, and when a bunch of little votes come together, it can make a big difference,” she said.
She also thinks Canadians should be grateful they can vote – something not afforded to everyone in the world.
Student Vote results:
Liberal Wilson Miao: 440 votes (27.26%)
NDP Sandra Nixon: 407 votes (25.22%)
Conservative Alice Wong: 406 votes (25.15)
Green Laura Gillanders: 280 (17.35%)
PPC James Hinton: 81 (5.02%)
NDP Jack Trovato: 839 votes (34.12%)
Liberal Parm Bains: 728 (29.61%)
Conservative Kenny Chiu: 499 votes (20.29%)
Green Francoise Raunet: 277 votes (11.26%)
PPC Jennifer Singh: 116 votes (4.72%)