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Students at Ray Shepherd Elementary cast their ballots for federal candidates in a mock election at the school on Oct. 16.
Hundreds of students in Surrey and White Rock have been researching party platforms, questioning local candidates and discussing issues that matter to them as they participate in Student Vote Canada 2019.
Though most are under the voting age, the Student Vote program provides elementary and secondary students an opportunity to cast a ballot for the official candidates running in the federal election. Registered schools are supplied with free resources and materials geared to Grades 4-12.
More than 100 elementary schools, secondary schools and learning centres in the Surrey School District are taking part, voting during the designated time period of Oct. 15-18. About 9,500 schools (and approximately a million students) nationwide are doing the same.
In an effort typically facilitated by teachers, students not only vote in the mock elections at their schools, but serve as election workers, helping to set up polling stations, as well as supervising the voting process and counting ballots.
Ray Shepherd Elementary Grade 6 teacher Erinn Riley said her students had a great time learning about the party leaders and local candidates.
"It brought out great discussions and debate within the classroom," said Riley. "I think, whether or not they fully understand the platforms as this age, they still walk through the process and it becomes less of an abstract idea. When they turn 18, maybe they will think 'hey, I remember doing this in Grade 6' and it won't be so daunting."
Travis Mackenzie, vice-principal at Fraser Heights Secondary, thanked teacher Hardip Rakkar for organizing the vote at his school, calling participating students "active citizens practicing their right and responsibility to vote."
Watch for the Student Vote results next week. They will be tabulated riding by riding and released publicly after the general election polls close on Oct. 21.
See a map of participating schools across Canada HERE (zoom in to view Surrey and White Rock schools).
Students at Fraser Heights Secondary line up to vote.