Prior to the provincial election on Tuesday May 9, students across B.C. participated in a mock election, Student Vote BC 2017.
In total, 1,092 schools reported their election results, representing all 87 electoral districts in the province. Ballots cast by students were 170,238 of which 163,923 were valid and 6,315 were rejected. The province-wide results showed that students in elementary and high schools favoured the BC New Democratic Party with a 39 per cent overall vote. The Green Party of BC took 28.5 per cent of the popular vote. The BC Liberals trailed close behind with 25.4 per cent of the vote, and the Independent Party took 2.1 per cent of the vote.
The BC NDP’s garnered 60 seats, the Greens took 14, the Liberals 12 and one Independent candidate was elected.
In Kootenay-East, 16 schools participated. In the Elk Valley, Elkford Secondary, Sparwood Secondary, Fernie Secondary, The Fernie Academy, Isabella Dicken, Frank J. Mitchell ad Jaffray School took part.
Nineteen students from Elkford Secondary School cast a ballot. Tom Shypitka with the BC Liberal Party took 47.37 per cent of the popular vote, Randal Macnair with 31.58 per cent, Keith Komar 15.79 per cent and Yvonne Prest at 5.26 per cent.
One-hundred seventy-one students from Sparwood Secondary School took part, and resulted in a majority vote for Yvonne Prest of the BC Green Party with 38.60 per cent of the popular vote. Tom Shypitka was close behind with 34.50 per cent. Randal Macnair took 15.79 per cent and Keith Komar took 11.11 per cent of the vote.
Twenty-three students from Fernie Secondary School submitted their votes. Here, the results could not have been closer. Yvonne Prest and Randal Macnair tied, each with 34.78 per cent of the vote. Tom Shypitka took second with 30.43 per cent of the vote and Keith Komar received zero votes.
Sixty-seven students from The Fernie Academy participated in this mock-election. Tom Shypitka took the top spot with 40.30 per cent of the vote. Randal Macnair was next with 32.84 per cent, followed by Yvonne Prest with 17.91 per cent. Keith Komar received six votes, putting him at 8.96 per cent.
Ninety-seven students from Isabella Dicken Elementary participated, and voted in favour of Randal Macnair who received 43.30 per cent of the vote. Next Yvonne Prest received 34 per cent, Tom Shypitka received 12.37 and Keith Komar received 10.31 per cent of the vote.
Twenty-nine students participated at Frank J. Mitchell Elementary, and voted largely in favour of Yvonne Prest who took 48.28 per cent of the popular vote. The closest behind was Tom Shypitka who took 27.59 per cent, followed by Randal Macnair with 20.69 per cent. Keith Komar received one vote, putting him at 3.45 per cent.
Lastly, 68 students from Jaffray School participated. They submitted a stifling 42 votes in favour of Tom Shypitka, who won majority with 61.76 per cent. Next was Keith Komar who scored 16.11 per cent, Yvonne Prest who received 14.71 per cent and Randal Macnair who placed last with 7.35 per cent of the popular vote.
Cathy Davies’ students at Fernie Secondary School spent the last month learning about national and provincial politics in order to be prepared for this mock election. Several topics she covered in her class besides a breakdown of the parties included lessons on voter apathy, representative democracy and vote splitting.
Asked if they thought enough young people were involved in politics, the class responded with a resounding “No.”
“First of all, we’re all minors,” said a student.
To this, the class spoke up and said they believe they should be able to vote at the age of 16. However, most of the class believes those under 18 should be required to take a test first to determine whether or not they are informed about politics. Questions on the test would include information about the parties and what policies, goals and objectives they’re putting forth.
Asked what they look for in a leader, one student said “loyalty”. Also, students considered wealth and equality an important quality.
“If you’re a greedy old bugger, you’re definitely not going to know what it’s like to work for a living,” said a student.
Asked who they voted for and why, the students chose to exercise their democratic right not to discuss this.
The class spoke of an argument they had over trophy hunting. Several spoke to the benefit of releasing a few tags in order to maintain the predator population and allow the moose population to start growing again. They spoke about how the NDP “tip-toed” around this issue.
Although there were a few missing from her class that day, teacher Cathy Davies asked her students to predict the outcome of the election for the district of East Kootenay.
Ten predicted that Macnair would take it, eight predicted Shypitka, and one didn’t care.
Speaking of the mock election, teacher Cathy Davies wanted students to walk away with a better understanding of the election process and how important it is to take part in politics.
“Every election is determined by the people who show up,” she said. “Even if you don’t like any of the candidates, that’s throwing away a vote if you don’t show up. It lets other people determine what your future is.
She spoke to how privileged we are, in Canada, to be able to vote freely as citizens.