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Here’s who would have won the election if grade-school students were making the decision

Ever wonder what would happen if kids were allowed to decide who runs the country? Apparently things would be a lot like last night’s federal election result — but with a few important differences.

They may have been too young to vote in the federal election, but more than 1.1 million students from 7,747 elementary and high schools across the country participated in Student Vote Canada 2019. The results of the mock federal election organized by CIVIX have the Liberals winning a minority government, with 110 seats and 22.4 per cent of the popular vote.

Unlike last night’s official election results, however, the student vote gave the NDP official opposition status with 99 seats and 24.8 per cent of the popular vote.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives won 94 seats and 25 per cent of the unofficial student vote, the Greens won 28 seats (18.2 per cent), and the Bloc Québécois won 10 seats (one per cent of the popular vote). Organizers told CBC News that students in all 338 federal ridings cast ballots, but the seat total in the mock election added up to 341 due to three ties.

All the major party leaders won their ridings in the mock student election, with the exception of Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet.

“Young people across Canada are often observed as a group that is not as informed or as engaged,” says Dan Allan, director of content for CIVIX, a civic education charity.

“This is just a neat example that young people in Canada are informed and engaged, and this is them sharing how they would vote if they had a chance.”

Students were able to vote between Oct. 15 and 21, and the turnout at the mock polls was up significantly from the 922,000 youths who cast ballots in the 2015 Student Vote. The number of schools participating this year was also up by more than 1,000.

“We are extremely pleased with the turnout overall for Student Vote Canada 2019, with more students across Canada taking part than ever before,” Allan said.

Classroom politics

Historically, Allan says the Student Vote “has been a pretty good indication of how the adults will vote.”

Students elected a Liberal majority government in 2015 and a Conservative majority government in 2011, two outcomes that mirrored the actual federal election results.

And sometimes the results have surprised their teachers.

“I would say the biggest difference is the change in voting patterns,” says Ted Mukhar, a teacher at St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener, Ont., which has participated in Student Vote since 2003.

“Our school ended up leaning Conservative in this election for the first time in any Student Vote we’ve had.”

St. Mary’s High School students took part in Student Vote Canada 2019, a mock vote for youths across the country held alongside the federal election to raise awareness among young people about the importance of getting out to the polls.

Student Vote organizers work closely with schools across the country and Elections Canada to teach young people about the voting process so that they’re prepared when they reach the age when they can cast their ballot legally.

And some of the education comes from other students. At St. Mary’s, for example, Mukhar led a team of 12 students who produced a video to educate their classmates about the various party platforms in the weeks leading up to the mock vote.

“It’s important for [students] to understand the value of democracy and how lucky we are to have it,” he said.

Charis Kelso, a teacher at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute in Toronto, agrees it’s important to educate grade-school students about exercising their democratic rights.

“Getting into the habit of voting does matter, because every voice matters and every voice counts,” Kelso said.

“It’s programs like Student Vote, it’s getting students engaged in the process in schools so that when they are able to vote it’s not a foreign concept.”

WATCH | The National’s story on how influencers tried to get young people to vote this election:

The latest push to get out the vote is using social media influencers to harness their influence to encourage young people to go to the polls. Andrew Chang met up with a group of influencers to see how it works.4:45

Mukhar says the efforts are paying off, with 1,618 students at his school casting ballots in the mock election this year, up from about 1,300 students in 2015.

“[Voting] is such an important fight that we sometimes under-value — and to understand what’s going on in other parts of the world where people are protesting for this right, people are willing to die for this right, it’s so valuable,” he said.

This year’s Student Vote was the sixth held in conjunction with a federal election.

“When we started, there could’ve been some teachers that maybe put [together] a class or two before their kids voted,” said Taylor Gunn, president of CIVIX.

“Now it’s regular for teachers to tell us how confident they are that their kids know more about the election and the issues and the candidates than their parents.”

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