| Oct 09, 2008

Oct 9/08 - Student Vote in Sharbot Lake

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Feature Article - October 9, 2008 Student Vote at Sharbot LakeBy Jeff Green

Duncan McGregor, Randy McVety, Shane Steeves, Kelly Weatherby and Paul Tallon.

In 1993, a man named Taylor Gunn decided that something had to be done about the fact that voting participation among first-time voters is very low in Canada.

One of the reasons, it turns out, is fear. Many first-time eligible voters are unfamiliar with how the voting booth and ballot system work.

So, in cooperation with Elections Canada, he established Student Vote Canada.

Elections Canada delivers voting booths and ballots to participating schools, and students organize and run mock elections in advance of the national election date. All results are kept confidential and are submitted to Student Vote Canada. The national results are announced on election night, just as the election results are pouring in.

Randy McVety, the head of the Social Studies Department at Sharbot Lake High School, answered an email about the program in 2004, and Student Vote has taken place at SLHS during all federal and provincial elections since then.

The elections are student-run, with staff providing support.

In order to inform students about the candidates and parties running for election, different strategies have been used at Sharbot Lake. This time around, setting up an all-candidates’ meeting with the real candidates in the riding was proposed, but even though the candidates were game, the timing did not work out for the school.

Instead, the candidates were asked to answer 10 questions about their parties and their own policies, and they submitted their answers to four students, who

“played” them at an all-candidates’ meeting that was modeled on similar meetings that have taken place throughout the riding over the past three weeks. The students also did independent research into the party policies of the candidates they were impersonating.

The four students who took on the roles of the candidates were Duncan MacGregor (Conservative Scott Reid), Kelly Weatherby (Liberal David Remington), Shane Steeves (NDP Sandra Willard), and Paul Tallon (Green Chris Walker).

After the all-candidates’ meetings, which were moderated by Chava Field-Green, the grade 7-12 students at the school had the opportunity to vote during their lunch hour.

The voting turnout was 38%, which Randy Mcvety found somewhat disappointing since the turnout had been 40% the last time around, but he said “perhaps having the vote during lunch hour made a bit of a difference.”

Nonetheless he plans to see SLHS participate in the next election, which he said, “given the latest polling numbers might not be that far off.”

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