Rothesay High uses federal election to get students interested in voting

High school students in Rothesay got the chance to vote Thursday, in an election just for them. The school held a mock election, but with a very real purpose: getting young people interested in the electoral process.

Teachers trying to promote the vote in the next generation

High school students in Rothesay got the chance to vote Thursday, in an election just for them.

The school held a mock election, but with a very real purpose: getting young people interested in the electoral process.

Although they can't vote in this federal election, they will be able to in the next, and teachers want to show them what to expect.

Ballots being counted in mock election at Rothesay High (CBC)

Grade 12 student Brandan Small was one of the voters.

"It might make people a bit less nervous because some people are just too nervous to vote," he said. "And are like, 'I'm too young, I don't want to do it.' But doing it in high school just as a practice, probably would benefit us."

With the percentage of young voters slipping over the past few elections, the teachers involved feel strongly about encouraging their students.

"Today we didn't so much give them a choice," explained Stephanie Tomilson, the principal of Rothesay High. "We wanted them to have the act of voting, because we know that the first time they vote, they're more likely to do it in the future."

Rothesday High students voting in mock election (CBC)

Polling stations were set up around the school, with booths, ballots, and official boxes. Students got to see every step of the process.

There's even a Chief Returning Officer, Chip Smith.

"We see it all on television, how they count them all," said the Grade 11 student. "But you don't actually get to experience it because they close it off. So you kind of get to experience it all."

We know that the first time they vote, they're more likely to do it in the future.- Stephanie Tomilson, Principal, Rothesay High School

At another school one riding over, the federal election is part of the curriculum as well. Tom Chamberlain's math class at Kennebecasis Valley High School was finding out how polls work.

Students counted up the number of election signs on their bus routes, and used that as a measuring stick for popularity of the candidates.

"It's too close to call," said Chamberlain. "We found that in our riding of Fundy Royal that the Conservatives and the NDP are pretty much in a dead heat at 32 per cent."

Rothesay High students vote in mock election (CBC)

Back in Rothesay, they haven't declared a winner even though the ballots have been counted. That won't be revealed until election night.

It's just one more way the students get a taste of what voting is all about.

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