Student Vote results are in. See how kids voted compared to adults

Published 2021-09-21 17:25

Kids choose NDP as official opposition instead of Conservatives


When it comes to what Canadians are looking for in their next government, it seems that kids and adults disagree on the details.

More than 700,000 elementary and high school students from each of Canada’s 338 ridings participated in a mock election this month, alongside the real federal election.

Student Vote Canada was organized by a charity called CIVIX, in collaboration with Elections Canada.

When the results were released on Tuesday, it showed that kids had chosen a Liberal minority government, just like the adults.

But, in a surprise twist, the students chose the NDP as the second-place party instead of matching the adult vote and going with the Conservatives.

In a kid-led universe, this would make the NDP the official opposition, or the group tasked with keeping the ruling party in check.

It shows that we want a change as young Canadians, and we’re ready for a change.” - Zara Enayetullah, 12

In total, the Liberals won 117 seats, the NDP won 107, the Conservatives won 91, the Bloc Québécois won 20 and the Greens won three.

Students from Sir Sandford Fleming Elementary in Vancouver, B.C., cast their votes in secret behind privacy screens. (Image credit: @flemingVSB/Twitter)

You can find out how that compares to the real election results by clicking here.

But why did the student vote pan out slightly differently than the adult vote?

CBC Kids News talked to two kids who participated in the mock election to get their reactions.

The NDP ‘resonates with young Canadians’

Zara Enayetullah, a 12-year-old from Lethbridge, Alberta, helped her teacher run the student vote at G.S. Lakie Middle School.

Zara Enayetullah, 12, said that health care, climate change and racism were big factors in the way she voted. (Image submitted by Zara Enayetullah)

She told CBC Kids News that the NDP platform — and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh — resonated more with young Canadians.

“He is on social media platforms in a way that other politicians aren’t. He can also speak their language. A lot of kids identify with what he’s saying,” Zara said.

She said she expects the next generation of voters to stick with their current preferences and make different choices than their parents.

“I think in around 10-15 years we might even have an NDP government.”

Axton Myers, a 13-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., who also helped run the student vote at Clayburn Middle School, had similar insights about why students voted a bit differently than adults.

Axton Myers, 13, said things like racism and LGBTQ issues were important to him in this year’s student vote. (Image submitted by Axton Myers)

Although the Conservatives won the vote at his school, he wasn’t surprised that the NDP won the opposition in the overall vote.

He said that parts of the NDP platform, like their focus on reconciliation, may resonate more with kids.

“A lot of kids hear what the NDP promises, and that sounds a lot more appealing than what Conservatives promise, because they cater more to the older population,” Axton said.

Kids learn about democracy

What’s the point of a mock election, anyway?

Well, according to CIVIX, the goal is to give kids experience so they know what to expect when it comes to casting a real ballot one day.

Elections Canada agrees that the process encourages kids to participate once they’re old enough.

“Research has shown that the program increases students’ knowledge of politics and elections, promotes political discussion, enhances their sense of civic duty and strengthens their future intentions to vote,” said Stéphane Perrault, Canada’s chief electoral officer.

Zara said the student vote also helped her appreciate Canada.

A student at C.D. Farquharson Junior Public School in Toronto drops a marked ballot into an Elections Canada box. (Image credit: @CDF_TDSB/Twitter)

“It gave me a deep sense of gratitude because, at the age of 12, I get to participate in a student vote and lots of adults around the world don’t get to vote at all.”

Axton said it was fun to learn about the issues that mattered most to his classmates.

“I learned a lot more about how people think of the vote and what’s important to them.”

Making the student vote count

Benefits aside, both Zara and Axton said they wished the student vote had more of an impact on the actual election.

Canadian kids from all 338 ridings voted in the mock election, including this student from Brookside Intermediate in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Newfoundland. (Image credit: @mrs_williamsBSI/Twitter)

Zara said she wished the results of the student vote could be released a week earlier, so that older Canadians could see what kids wanted before they made their own decisions.

Axton agreed.

“Maybe if parents could see the results of the student election, they might see what is important to their kids and what’s important to the next generation of Canada,” he said. “I think that would definitely have an impact.”

Zara said she also wished students could have asked questions to the party leaders prior to the vote.

While it’s too late for that, she said it isn’t too late for the leaders to make an effort to reach out.

“I think the political leaders should respond to the student vote and maybe even do a short speech on it. We chose Justin Trudeau as the leader and Jagmeet as the opposition, and I want to hear what they have to say about that.”

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