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What party would our students vote in?

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Capturing the student voice at Hilltop Jr/Sr High School

by Jennifer Keay, Social Studies Teacher, Hilltop Jr/Sr High School

Hilltop students are voting today for the representative of their choice in Alberta. Over the course of the election campaign, students have been investigating issues facing Alberta and the candidates for the Whitecourt-St.Anne riding, as well as learning about the major political parties in Alberta. The purpose of Student Vote is to help our future voters understand the importance of democracy, increase political awareness, and teach students the importance of casting their vote.

Canada, like many western democracies, has seen a steady decline in voter turnout in the last two decades. Electoral participation reached an all-time low of 59 per cent in the 2008 federal election and voter turnout in most provinces is hovering above or below 50 per cent. Even more concerning is the fact that low voter turnout is disproportionately concentrated among young Canadians.  This has serious implications for the future of Canadian democracy as the research suggests that habits of voting and non-voting persist over time and one of the best predictors of individual turnout is whether or not a person voted in the previous election.

An independent evaluation of the federal Student Vote Program was conducted by Elevate Consulting on behalf of Elections Canada in 2011. The evaluation was conducted to determine the effectiveness of the Student Vote Program in achieving its civic education objectives among students, teachers and parents.

The Student Vote Program Evaluation's main findings include:

  • The program is having a significant positive impact on students' knowledge of politics and the electoral process, political discussion with parents, interest in politics and civic duty, which are all important predictors of voting.

  • Over 60 per cent of parents reported an increase in their own political interest and knowledge as a result of their child's participation in the program. The program also provided their family with more opportunities to learn about and discuss politics.

  • Among parents who voted, 20 per cent reported that their child's participation in the Student Vote Program positively affected their decision to vote.

Each Hilltop student cast their ballot today. The results will be released along with the May 5 general election results of the Province. It is our hope that through this program, students will become more engaged in the political process and we will defeat the apathy epidemic that our province is facing.

Meet Sage, the newest member of the Pat Hardy family! Writing limericks in Limerick!