UPDATED: Over 170,000 elementary and high schools students participated in the Student Vote program over the course of the B.C. provincial election.
As per the Election Act, the Student Vote BC 2017 results were under official embargo until the close of official polls at 8 p.m. tonight.
Now the results are in: Students resoundly selected the NDP in the mock election by giving the party 39 per cent of the vote. The Greens got another 28.5 per cent, while the Liberals got 25.4 per cent.
In the individual North Shore ridings, students tended to overwhelmingly go with the Green Party, with both North Vancouver-Lonsdale, North Vancouver-Seymour and West Vancouver-Sea to Sky going with a Green candidate. In West Vancouver-Capilano, however, the same riding that Ridgeview Elementary is in, students selected the Liberals.
More results can be found at the Student Vote website.
They may be too young for their votes to count now, but a future generation of voters is closer to being prepared to fulfil their civic duties one day, after many North Shore students held their own mock elections leading up to Tuesday’s official vote.
Dozens of classrooms on the North Shore this week found themselves turned into mock election polling places, an exercise intended to inspire, educate and get the civic ball rolling for young voters still years away from actually participating in the electoral process.
“I think because we can’t vote, but that we can vote this way is kind of unique,” said Chloe Saar, a Grade 6 student at Ridgeview Elementary in West Vancouver.
“You can see the generations to come,” added classmate Josh Sanagan, noting the realization that one day he and his peers would be the ones with the power to choose new governments.
The program that Ridgeview and other North Shore schools were participating in is called Student Vote, a non-partisan civic education curriculum available across the country that teaches youth about voting and civic engagement in the weeks leading up to an election.
On Monday, a Ridgeview classroom was turned into a mock polling station, complete with desks, election ballots, ballot boxes and dividers guaranteeing anonymity for the democracy demo kids were participating in.
“It’s a fun program, the kids are into it,” said Ridgeview vice-principal Nathan Blackburn. “It’s good that they just become involved politically and they start having opinions. It’s led to some really good classroom debates. If we weren’t doing it I don’t know if they would care too much.”
The Student Vote curriculum teaches the basics early on, including the difference between municipal, provincial and federal elections. In the weeks that followed, students took a deeper dive and learned everything from parsing the differences between parties, all the way through examining the different roles and responsibilities of voting officials.
Blackburn said that today’s young people were so inundated with a constant stream of election information from TV, radio and social media that it only made sense to take a closer look at it.
“We knew that historically in British Columbia that youth voter turnout is pretty low. Just to be engaged and participate in the process I think is valuable for them – being political thinkers going forward in life,” Blackburn said.
He added that when Ridgeview students from grades 4 through 7 were asked which way they were leaning leading up to Monday’s “vote,” the vast majority showed support for the B.C. Liberals. However, once students began to take a closer look at the issues during class investigations and debates – high-stakes provincial issues such as the Site C dam, the foreign buyers tax and Howe Sound tanker traffic – voter preferences for Liberal, NDP and the Green Party began to balance out among them.
The mock ballots that students at Ridgeview filled out Monday were near-identical to the ones that eligible voters used to cast their vote in the West Vancouver-Capilano electoral district yesterday.
Besides putting their civic minds to the test by casting their votes for Green Party candidate Michael Markwick, NDP candidate Mehdi Russel or Liberal incumbent Ralph Sultan, students were encouraged to question the way in which election info is transmitted. Several sessions on media analysis, where students watched electoral ads and analyzed how the message gets across and whether the tone was positive or negative, showed them the importance of questioning sources and thinking critically about electoral politics.
When asked what was obvious to her after examining a series of campaign ads from B.C. political parties, Grade 6 student Chloe Saar’s answer was crystal clear:
“Well, that the NDP and the Liberals hate each other,” she said.