Last Friday, Waterloo Collegiate Institute students gathered in the front foyer of their school to engage in the democratic process.
This election was a suspenseful one; for most of it, polls were reporting the three major parties in a statistical tie. The election’s tense nature was surely a factor in the high turnout to the advance polls the week before the election. “When the voter turnout goes up, it’s a vote for change,” said Mr. Pavey, the head of the history department at WCI.
Certainly, this election was fought over which party could bring about the most change, or in the case of the Conservative Party, whether the country would benefit from any change at all. These differences in opinion escalated to heated debates and personal attacks, especially through social media.
“The downside of that is that it’s kind of negative; people get out to vote when they hate somebody.” Pavey added, “The politicians need to give young people a reason to vote, to get excited … Monday, we’ll see. That’s the ultimate test.”
It truly was the ultimate test. The last mock election held at WCI was four years ago, during the 2011 federal election. The then Liberal candidate Andrew Telegdi won the mock election (an outcome contrary to the real results of this riding where Peter Braid of the Conservative Party won).
The Liberals dominated the mock election at WCI last week, with Bardish Chagger having more than twice the votes of the 2nd place candidate, Peter Braid of the Conservatives.
The red wave not only captivated students but swept across the entire country and led to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals winning a majority government under the banner of “real change.” While many expected the Liberal Party to do well, including Pavey, few predicted they would do this well.
Student Vote released their results from mock elections held at schools across the country. The following charts compare Monday’s results with those of student elections.
The biggest surprise comes when the mock election results are compared to the real election results. “[The mock election] really reflected the general consensus in society,” said Mrs. Cresswell, the teacher in charge of the mock election at WCI. In popular vote, the support for the Liberals and NDP in the mock election and the real election were almost identical. An important note, Cresswell said, is that if students were aware of how closely they vote in comparison to society, they would realize that their vote is important and does reflect something.
Another reason that student votes are important is that Elections Canada and political parties actually examine these outcomes. In fact, mock election results are not allowed to be revealed until the actual election is over. This is because the mock election results typically end up close to the actual results, and Elections Canada does not want these results to affect or influence voters in the real election. Political parties also use this information to develop their platforms as it shows what future voters care about.
Despite a commendable number of voters in the WCI school election, Bluevale Collegiate Institute’s turnout was significantly higher at about twice WCI’s. Cresswell explained the reasons behind these numbers: “Our class wanted to do an experiment to see how many people would actually take initiative to do it to make it a better reflection of what the Canadian voters do … We wanted to see what the voter initiative was in the school versus a contrived push towards it.” While the turnout was lower as a result, this experiment did send a strong message about the importance of eliminating voter apathy.
“It’s what we’re trying to do with the student vote,” said Pavey. “Even if you can’t vote, you can at least engage in the mock election.”
Both teachers encourage young voters to get involved in politics. “If you have three different versions of beige on the stage, people won’t get excited, but I think when people begin to understand why these issues really matter, [they] will gravitate to personalities who can get them to vote,” Pavey said.
Cresswell also said, “There are people dying in the world for this right and we have it.” Though this mock election could have had a larger turnout, one thing has been proven: youth votes matter a lot more than society tends to believe.
For the full results, see this article.