Young ‘voters’ to mark it with an X, too

Students to cast ballots in provincial 'election'


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Hey Greg, Hugh and Jon -- want to get an early start on wooing voters in the 2015 and 2019 provincial elections?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/09/2011 (4219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey Greg, Hugh and Jon — want to get an early start on wooing voters in the 2015 and 2019 provincial elections?

Tens of thousands of Manitoba students will be voting in the Oct. 4 election, though their votes won’t count, at least not this time around.

Student Vote will be contesting a Manitoba provincial election for the first time, after conducting votes among students in 11 federal and provincial elections since 2003.

The non-profit organization provides materials for teachers to do election lessons in the classroom, examine the democratic process, local candidates, and the issues.

Come election day, the students vote, and the results are toted up from the schools within each riding. The Student Vote election results from schools within Manitoba’s 57 provincial ridings will appear in the Free Press on Oct. 5.

“This will be the first Manitoba provincial election we’ve contested,” Taylor Gunn, Student Vote’s chief election officer, said from Toronto on Wednesday. “The first group of teachers we’re reaching out to is the group of teachers we’ve worked with before.”

Back in the spring, more than 24,000 students in 257 Manitoba schools from elementary through high school voted in the 14 federal ridings.

“We help schools put democracy on the table during the campaign,” Gunn said. “Their interest increases, their sense of civic duty increases.”

Talk from previous elections was that all-candidate town halls in the classrooms produced some of the toughest and most compelling questions during the campaign about what really matters to Canadian young people, he said.

“Schools tell us that when you bring real issues into the classroom in real time, it becomes a real enriching and engaging process.”

Kids go home and talk up the election with their parents, exchanging values and opinions, he said.

“We’re creating dialogue.”

In some cases, the students get so pumped they get their parents and other voting relatives out to the polls, Gunn said. “It’s a trickle-up effect.”

Manitoba schools have increased their involvement in each federal election, but still, only 31 per cent of schools here participated in the federal election, and in some schools, only one classroom with a politically keen teacher took part.

Canadian Heritage provides funding for the project nationally, but with several provinces and territories conducting fixed-date elections, it was touch and go whether Student Vote could operate in Manitoba, Gunn said, until Manitoba’s department of education provided a grant last week just before the election was officially called.

With federal and provincial elections being held now on fixed dates, unless there’s a minority government, this could be Manitoba students’ last chance to take part in Student Vote for several years.

Teachers can register their class by going on-line at, or by calling 1-866-488-8775.

What’s on your mind?

YOU may be too young to vote, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your views known.

As part of our Democracy Project, we are inviting students to send us their thoughts on voting, the Oct. 4 election and the issues that matter to them.

During the campaign, we will try to publish as many of these letters as possible. Please keep your letters to 200 words and email them to us at: In your email, please include your name, school and grade, as well as a contact phone number.

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