Students head to the polls ahead of Manitoba election day

Ahead of the October 3rd general provincial election, about 25,000 students across Manitoba voted for their local MLA in a mock election. Edward Djan visited a school that held a student vote and has more.

While election day isn’t until Tuesday, some students across the province are heading to the polls slightly earlier than their adult counterparts.

Students at Grant Park High School lining up bright and early to cast their vote in a mock election.

“It makes me want to vote when I’m older. It makes me feel proud to be a Canadian citizen, to be able to vote at this young age. I can’t wait until I can actually vote,” said Isaac Dicresce, voter.

Another voter, Travis Currie adding, “I actually have a really big say in what can happen because it can come down to one vote.”

Educators like Elena Wiens, social studies’ department head at Grant Park High School, say days like these have a significant impact on how students will view the importance of voting once they become eligible.

“We already know, statistics shows us, that if a student votes in a Student Vote environment like this, they are way more likely to vote once they turn 18 and they’re legally eligible to be able to vote in municipal, provincial and federal elections,” said Wiens.

“The leaders don’t pay attention to what’s important to the young people. I think it’s really important that they know that this is the next generation that is going to be voting in the next election and that they’re voices matter.”

An Elections Manitoba survey from the 2019 general provincial election shows that 58 per cent of non-voters are under the age of 40.

Only 11 per cent of survey respondents between the ages of 18 to 24 saying they voted in 2019.

It’s why organizations like CIVIX, which specializes in civic education, help hold student elections, like the one at Grant Park High School.

“It’s a great way for students to learn about politics in real time. Politics can be hard to learn from a textbook. Getting a chance to actually engage with the campaign as it’s going on allows students to actually see politics and experience it in action,” said Ruth Matthew, Community Relations Manager, CIVIX.

There are roughly 25,000 students across Manitoba, from nearly 400 schools both from elementary and secondary are expected to cast a ballot for their local MLA based on the issues most important to them.

“I hope that they don’t take their democratic rights for granted, that they know they have a sense of responsibility to each other to create the country that we all want to live in,” said Wiens.

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