Maritimers' First World War letters home : spirits remain high despite ...
The psychology of war in Atlantic Canada: war wounds beyond the ...
The poppy: a lasting symbol of remembrance
Maritimers and Newfoundlanders at war: The sympathy, the pride and the ...
ON THE 11th HOUR: when the war went quiet
‘If you get really cranky, it’s your fault because you didn’t vote’
Evelyn Collins has a message for anyone who doesn’t exercise their right to vote in the upcoming federal election.
“If you don’t vote, and a team you don’t want wins, and you get really cranky, it’s your fault because you didn’t vote,” the nine-year-old Sydney resident told the Cape Breton Post on Thursday morning as she and her classmates took part in a mock federal election at Brookland Elementary School.
Neeta Kumar-Britten’s Grade 4 classroom was transformed into a kid-sized polling station for the Student Vote parallel election, which is organized by citizenship education charity Civx and supported by Elections Canada.
As deputy returning officers, Collins and fellow Grade 4 student Bailey MacAskill oversaw the entire process, which is as authentic as possible, down to the ballots, which look identical to those voters will mark when the real election takes place Monday.
Other students served as poll clerks, inviting voters into the room, then directing them to the tables where they had to hand over their voter identification cards before they could receive their ballots. It was taken so seriously that a few students who’d forgotten their voter cards had to wait until their teacher confirmed their identity. Other poll clerks were stationed at the voting booth to protect the privacy of the students as they voted and then sent them to the actual ballot boxes where more poll clerks watched as the marked and folded ballots were deposited.
“It is an exact replica of a real polling station,” Kumar-Britten said of the students. “They’re doing the whole thing. They’re running the election like an Elections Canada staff would.”
With about 120 Brookland students in Grade 4 and Grade 5 taking part in the election Thursday, Collins and MacAskill had their hands full trying to keep things organized.
“We watch over the whole Student Vote election and we also make sure that whenever the tables run out of ballots we give them about five to 10,” explained MacAskill, 9.
Added Collins: “It’s pretty chaotic.”
Kumar-Britten said at the end of the day Collins and MacAskill will help her count the ballots and they will have to swear an oath on the Student Vote Canada election guide that they won’t release the results before the actual election.
“The general election results will be released, of course, the night of the general election but so will the Student Vote results. They will go on national TV — on any Canadian network you will see the Student Vote results released the same night the general election is going on in Canada.”
Over the course of her 27-year teaching career, Kumar-Britten said she’s participated in Student Vote every time she's had an opportunity, whether it was a municipal, provincial or federal election. She said the idea is to teach kids about the importance of voting and encourage them to take the lessons back home.
This year, 9,500 schools, including 48 in Cape Breton, are taking part. All 338 ridings are represented and more than one million elementary and secondary students are expected to cast ballots.
“We know voter turnout in Canada is not where it needs to be. We want to encourage parents to have these discussions with their kids — not so that parents are just encouraging their kids to vote the way they voted — but they’re actually having discussions with their parents about why they feel like they want to support the candidate that they’re supporting,” she said, adding that research shows that people who participate in parallel elections as a youth are much more likely to vote when they turn 18 and beyond.
“I see kids later on when they’re older who say, ‘I continue to vote,’ and ‘When I turned 18, I voted, and I do that because of my experience with Student Vote in school.’ It’s interesting. You can see statistics from the last federal election — there was a 25 per cent increase in voter turnout. I like to think that a little part of that is because of Student Vote.”
Like Collins, MacAskill also had some advice for people who can legally vote on Oct. 21.
“I would say just please try to vote.”
- 1,000,000 — the number of elementary and secondary students expected to cast ballots
- 9,500 — the number of schools registered to participate in the 2019 Student Vote
- 48 — the number of Cape Breton schools participating this year
- 41 — the number of Cape Breton school that took part during the 2015 election
- 4,515 — the number of students who voted in the 2015 election