If more than 300,000 Ontario students under the voting age had their way, the province would have elected an NDP minority government Thursday, according to preliminary results from a mock election.
The national non-profit organization Student Vote oversaw the simulated election in elementary, junior and high schools across the province as part of its mandate to educate young people about voting by giving them a hands-on experience. A total of 2,807 schools signed up to run polls, and 2,109 had submitted results by early Thursday afternoon.
Student Vote results
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In an outcome that does not parallel the real election, the schoolchildren and teens chose Andrea Horwath’s NDP to form the province’s next government, by a thin margin of 41 seats to 39 for Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals.
The Progressive Conservatives under leader Tim Hudak won 24 seats, while the Green Party took three, including the riding of Simcoe Grey, won by party leader Mike Schreiner.
The final results could change slightly as poll counts come in from the remaining 700 schools. All the figures are to be tabulated and revealed at a later date, after Thursday's real election.
No party took more than 30 per cent of the popular vote in the mock election. Besides the four main parties, the 321,736 students also cast a surprising number of votes for the pro-capitalist Freedom Party (3.9 per cent) and the anti-abortion Family Coalition Party (1.8 per cent).
As in the general election, the student vote was conducted riding-by-riding, with youth voting for their local candidate. Participation varied from 686 students at 11 schools in the constituency of Ottawa–Vanier to 7,105 from 29 schools in Barrie.
"The results of Student Vote have predicted the winner of the last two provincial elections. The opposition parties have typically differed, sometimes dramatically, from the official results," the organization said in a release.
For the 2007 mock election, students awarded McGuinty’s Liberals 63 seats and 31 per cent of the vote, while the NDP got 16 seats with 19.2 per cent of the vote, the Tories took 11 ridings with 20.2 per cent of the vote and the Greens captured a whopping 17 seats – enough for Official Opposition status – with 24.2 per cent of ballots cast.
Student Vote was engaged by Elections Ontario to run the simulated election. Students voted on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The organization also ran mock elections earlier this week for students in P.E.I., the Northwest Territories and Manitoba as part of their campaigns. It will oversee student voting in Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador next Tuesday, and Saskatchewan next month.