Jeff Green | Oct 18, 2007
Feature Article - October 18, 2007 Feature Article - October 18, 2007 Is Green the New Black? How Students Voted in this Provincial ElectionBy Kate Brown
Although the majority of students in Ontario are under the age of 18, they have been allowed to vote in mock elections since the Ontario Provincial Election of 2003. Created by Elections Ontario, partnered with Student Vote, this initiative was undertaken 5 years ago in order to educate students about the electoral process, as well as voting procedures and the importance of voting. Schools who choose to register in the faux ballot casting are given the resources in order to stage a realistic election, which runs parallel to any provincial or federal election that may be taking place at the time. The goal is that responsible voters will be created by the time students hit the legal age to take part in an election and that their decisions will be well-informed.
Since the formation of Student Vote, Sharbot Lake High has registered as a participating school and again partook in the election that coincided with this year’s Ontario Provincial Election. SLHS teacher, Randy McVety, coordinates the event every election year and once again undertook the task, along with his senior Social Science classes. Assigning small groups of students to represent each of the local candidates, it was up to the teens to explain the details of their parties to their peers and to convince the students to vote for their specific representatives. As well, another group was assigned to explain the new electoral process, and their job was to give details about how both the First Past the Post (FPP) and Mixed Member Proportion (MMP) systems work. For two days prior to the vote, the seniors went around to classes clarifying their platforms and encouraging students to cast their ballots, which they did on October 4, six days before the actual election.
Not surprisingly, the voter turnout was primarily unsatisfactory at a 50% participation rate. However, opinions were swayed when Sharbot Lake’s numbers were compared to those of other schools, such as Regiopolis Notre Dame, who had a mere 3% turnout and Napanee District Secondary School, who had a count of only 22 ballots. In fact, as Year 5 student Missy Tallon says, “Based on the results from the other districts, we were in the highest percentages for voter turnout”.
What was surprising though, were the results of the student election at SLHS, at least when contrasted with the rest of the province. This year, the Green Party won, snagging 44.4% of the 117 acceptable votes cast. The NDP came in second with 27.4% of the vote, followed by 13.6% for the Conservative Party, 9.4% for the Liberal Party and 5.1% for the Family Coalition Party. In previous years, the results have always put the Liberals in first, with the exception of last year’s Federal Vote, which put a Conservative in the lead. However, since the issue of the environment has exploded into popularity, it seems fitting that Green would win this year’s election. As Mr. McVety further states, “There seems to be more support for leftist parties at the school”.
Oppositely though, the overall winners in the student vote in our riding were the Conservatives, with the Liberals coming in second. And in the province, the majority student vote went to the Liberals, who won a massive 63 seats, with the second closest party being the Green Party with 18 seats. In all three cases the MMP was stricken down, most likely due to a lack of understanding of the how the complex system works, which was also reflected in the adult vote.
There is no clear-cut pattern as to how the youth of today are voting, with the exception of our riding, where results were very similar to those of the adult vote. It is apparent that more and more students are voting left wing, as was shown in the overall provincial student election, but who’s to know what the results will be, come next election.