THUNDER BAY -- Election time has piqued Jersey Shonias’s curiosity.
At 11-years-old, she is unable to cast a ballot in Thursday’s election. But the Grade 5 student certainly was interested in knowing more about how the system works when the provincial campaign began a month ago.
“I would say, ‘What’s all this about voting? What’s it for?’ And once I started to learn about it, it helped me to understand it,” she said.
Two classes at Kingsway Park Public School took part in a student vote Wednesday, part of a Canada-wide program called Student Vote. The program organizes parallel elections for school students under the voting age during official elections, according to their website.
“It allows the students to participate in an actual vote. The experience is very similar to what they’ll experience when they’re 18,” Grads 5 and 6 teacher Eilidh Childs says.
“It takes some of that fear of the unknown away from them, but it also has them really engaged in politics, so they’re researching the various platforms leading up to the election, so their decisions are made on a lot of research based off a lot of hard work on their part.”
Childs says her students have been researching the parties and their platforms since the official Ontario election was called in May.
“It’s fun that you get to vote, and you can see how it’s going to be like when you’re 18 and you want to vote,” said Grade 5 student Bryton Ratte.
“It’s tricky to decide, just researching all the stuff, and then when you’re about to say ‘Oh, I like this,’ you find out that there’s something that you don’t like.”
Both Shonias and Ratte said it was difficult to find the exact information they were looking for.
“It’s almost like it was hidden,” Ratte said. “You have to click on different links to go to different places to find different stuff.”
“Like they said, it was hard to find the information sometimes,” adds Childs. “It’s hidden in a lot of different forms of language, and the platforms weren’t easily laid out, so they really had to dig deep to find the true meaning.”
Childs says she will count the ballots and send in the results for them to be tallied along with the rest of the schools participating in the province.
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