With the provincial election on Monday, Oct. 26, students across Prince Albert have been taking part in the Student Vote 2020.
Among the schools that are involved in the program is Carlton Comprehensive High School.
Teacher Kelly Klassen found the exercise does promote engagement in the democratic process with the student body.
“Generally it’s a good practice for some of them on democracy and gets them used to the idea of voting and participating when it gets to the time that they are 18 it won’t be so intimidating or strange or scary for them to walk into a polling station and cast their first vote of their lives basically. I think it makes it just a little more comfortable in the process and maybe a little bit knowledgeable about the democratic process and what their vote really means. Not always voting for the leader but voting for people to represent them in their community,” Klassen said.
On Oct. 21 and 22, students at Carlton took on the roles of election officials and coordinate the voting process for their peers. CIVIX, the organization that puts the event on each election, will tabulate the results by constituency and release them publicly following the close of polls.
“They played really the poll clerk or returning officer and they got the ballots and some screens and they basically facilitated the vote and made sure it was done fairly,” Klassen said.
Sarah Larocque, a Grade 10 student, was one of these poll clerks and found the exercise engaging.
“It was pretty interesting having to go around to different classroom, collecting different information and tallying up all of the different votes,” Larocque said.
Larocque explained that she did learn some things about the democratic process
It was done this election for every student in Grade 9 to 12 at Carlton.
The Student Vote program adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and new safety protocols required in schools and classrooms. Project activities were adapted to allow for physical distancing and online learning, with additional digital resources available. While most schools will vote using traditional paper ballots, schools were given the option to vote online.
“We have done it several times and it has been different this time we weren’t really allowed to have large gatherings and do it the normal way we used to have which was at polling stations. We did it mobile so I had my grade 10s walk around the school in pairs and they allowed individual classes to vote in their classrooms. It was a little challenging but it worked out I think over the course of the days,” Klassen said.
Once the results are released the students who participated will see the results.
“On Tuesday morning (Oct. 27) I am going to give the results to the kids too so they know how their vote was impacted and how their vote impacted the results of the province and the PA Carlton area,” he said.
Prince Albert schools taking part included Carlton, Wesmor Community School, W.J. Berezowsky School, Osborne School, Westview Community School, Vincent Massey Community School, John Diefenbaker School, Red Wing School, St. Michael Community School, Holy Cross School, St. John Community School, St. Francis School, Canadian Revival Preparatory School, Ecole St. Anne School, Ecole Vickers School, West Central School, St. Catherine Catholic School and Eagle’s Nest Youth Ranch.
“It’s a good process. Hopefully it translates to a lot more voter turnout in the future for when the young people start to become the major contributors,” Klassen said. A total of 420 schools have registered to participate in Student Vote Saskatchewan 2020, representing all 61 provincial electoral constituencies.