ASD-W schools take part in student vote in conjunction with federal election

Article Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Most schools across ASD-W participated in Student Vote Canada in conjunction with the Oct. 21 federal election.

The authentic learning program, supported by Election Canada, provides students with the opportunity to experience the voting process first hand and practice the habits of active and informed citizenship.

Across the province, New Brunswick students voted Green. More than 37,000 students from 247 schools cast their ballot. There were a total of 36,326 votes cast with 11,897 ballots or 32.75 per cent going to the Green Party. A little more than 8,000 votes or 22.42 per cent went to the Liberals and 6,374 or 17.55 per cent went to the Conservatives. 

Across Canada, more than 1.1 million, elementary, middle and secondary students voted for a Liberal minority government (the same result as election night).

To prepare for the student vote, schools received educational resources, posters, riding maps, ballots and ballot boxes free of charge from CIVIX, a national non-profit organization dedicated to building the skills and habits of an active and engaged citizenship among young Canadians.

“The program is an excellent resource for teaching about government and the electoral process,” said Kynda Bryant, principal at Minto Elementary and Middle School. “It allows the students to engage in the campaign and cast ballots on the official local candidates.”

Minto teachers Molly Nugent and Jennifer LeBlanc also attended a professional development conference in Halifax called Democracy Bootcamp that explores the themes of democracy, government and the election process. The conference acquainted teachers ​with the political players and issues as well as improve the interest, knowledge and instructional capacity of classroom teachers to teach democracy and citizenship.

At Woodstock High School, one Grade 12 political science class and two sections of Grade 12 classes studying World Issues were involved in the student vote program. A total of 61 ballots were cast among the three classes.

"A great deal of time was spent having discussions surrounding the political spectrum and general political philosophies," said teacher William Davidson. "We worked from the very general ideas and terminology at the beginning of the course that became much more practical and focused as we approached voting day. Students spent time reflecting on their own position on the political continuum."

Woodstock High School students delivered 40 per cent of the vote to the Green Party, 23 per cent to the New Democratic Party, 18.3 per cent to the LIberals, 15 per cent to the Conservatives and 3.3 per cent of the vote to the People's Party.

"The significant take away is the level of engagement students have demonstrated," Davidson explained. "Their response suggested they are becoming much more informed about the political landscape in Canada. Several students expressed that they were looking forward to being able to vote in a real election."

At Fredericton High School, Grade 12 political science students heard from several election candidates in the Fredericton area during a “meet the candidates” assembly. Once the vote was taken, over 74 per cent of Fredericton High School students voted and the results showed a strong finish for the Green Party with 45 per cent of the vote. On federal election night, the Fredericton riding elected Jenica Atwin the first Green Member of Parliament east of British Columbia.

The parallel election exercise in democracy provided the students with experiential learning opportunities to practice their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Instead of studying about democracy, they experienced it first hand with real issues in real-time.

The program is aimed at students in Grade 4 and up throughout the country and coincided with the 2019 federal election.