These democratically-minded sixth graders take mock elections seriously

Students at St. Stephen's Elementary in Halifax are preparing to cast ballots Monday along with thousands of other students across Nova Scotia as part of a mock election.

Some 15,000 students are expected to cast ballots in a provincewide vote Monday

Bryce Gallant, 11, says he's having a hard time choosing between the local candidates in his riding. (CBC News)

In a bright classroom in north-end Halifax, a group of elementary students are debating who the best candidates are in their riding, in preparation for a mock provincial election on Monday.

On a sheet of paper, each student fills out the names of the local candidates, their party affiliations and what they stand for.

Bill Banks, a Grade 6 teacher at St. Stephen's Elementary, said he was surprised by how seriously the children take the exercise. 

This mock election is no joke for his students.

Miya Fenton (left) and Molly Dodge Austin (right) are two of the Grade 6 students at St. Stephen's Elementary who will help administer the mock provincial election at their school. (CBC News)

186 schools participating in vote

Approximately 15,000 elementary and high school students from across Nova Scotia will cast ballots on Monday, dubbed Student Vote Day by CIVIX, a national civic education charity.

The organization has co-ordinated 36 student-vote projects across the country since 2003.

In Nova Scotia, 186 schools are registered to participate Monday, representing 50 of the 51 electoral districts. The results of their vote will be released shortly after the real polls close May 30 at around 8 p.m.

The students know the drill at St. Stephen's. Most of them have already participated in two student votes — one federal and one municipal. 

Lucas Webber (left) and North Wright (right) are researching the local candidates in their riding before they decide who to vote for. (CBC News)

Kids decide what's important to them

North Wright, 11, said it's important to research who the candidates are and brush up on their policies. Otherwise, he said, you could end up voting for somebody "you don't really like."

Classmate Miya Fenton, also 11, said it's important to vote, even if your preferred candidate doesn't come out on top. Then you can't complain about the outcome.

"Even if my decision doesn't win, I at least had a part in it," she said.

Student Bryce Gallant said he's having a difficult time choosing between the candidates in his riding.

It's "kind of a debate in my head," said the 11-year-old.

While he typically agrees with his parents' choice of candidate, Bryce said he clashed with their selection during the most recent municipal election.

His parents had a sign on their lawn for one candidate, but Bryce preferred what he heard when a second candidate came to the door to make a pitch.

Making voting a habit early on

Bryce said when it comes to politics, he's definitely paying attention.

Molly Dodge Austin, 12, said she is, too, and it will likely have an impact on her voting habits as an adult.

She said it's "pretty likely" she'll cast her first real ballot when she turns 18 and continue to vote whenever the opportunity arises.

Banks's class will be in charge of the polling station at St. Stephen's Elementary on Monday — setting up a ballot box, crossing names off the list of voters, handing out ballots and ensuring no rules are broken. 

With files from the CBC's Information Morning