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Twin Lakes takes part in annual Student Vote campaign

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Special to the Packet & Times

MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES
Douglas Nicholson, a Grade 11 student at Twin Lakes Secondary School, wants to elect a prime minister who is able to balance budgets, keep Canada safe and help refugees. He submitted his mock vote as part of the nation-wide Student Vote project Thursday.

MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES Douglas Nicholson, a Grade 11 student at Twin Lakes Secondary School, wants to elect a prime minister who is able to balance budgets, keep Canada safe and help refugees. He submitted his mock vote as part of the nation-wide Student Vote project Thursday.

The next generation of voters rehearsed its right to vote Thursday during a mock election at Twin Lakes Secondary School.

"It shows you care about what's going to happen to your country and who is going to run it," Douglas Nicholson, a Grade 11 student, said after casting his ballot. "We had references like Vote Compass to look at the party platforms. I looked at the budget and who would keep Canada safe and help refugees the most."

Nicholson was taking part in a nation-wide project called Student Vote, a program run by CIVIX, a civic education organization, in collaboration with Election Canada, to help establish voting habits early.

Every time an election is held -- be it municipal, provincial or federal -- Student Vote reaches out to Canadian high schools to educate students and promote among them a sense of responsibility regarding their right to vote.

According to the Student Vote website, since 2003, it has run 26 such Canada-wide programs, with a voter turnout of 563,000 from 3,750 schools in the last federal election.

"We do this every time in our civics and history classes, but this time, we decided to make it school-wide," said Barry McCann, a history teacher at Twin Lakes. "This way, we can negate voter apathy and instil democratic values now so when they're 18, they know how important it is to live in a democratic society."

The project was run by student volunteers who stepped forward to take up positions such as polling clerk and deputy returning officer.

"The federal elections are important for me because they're talking about issues affecting not only inside Canada, but outside as well," said Victoria Corbasson, a Grade 12 student whose interest in politics led her to volunteer as deputy returning officer for Thursday's exercise. "I like to take the lead on things and this is a good way to polish my skills in leadership."

History teacher Katherine Van Voorst noted students are not required to take par tin the mock vote, "but we certainly encourage students to participate."

"And teachers are mentioning in their classes as well," she said.

"It's a good opportunity for students to learn how to discuss politics without personal bias."

She said students had been dropping in throughout the day, with a dozen or so gathering at the polling station during breaks in their schedules.

Participating school submit their results to CIVIX, which tabulates the national numbers by riding to be published and shared through media outlets.

mehreen.shahid@sunmedia.ca

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