Student vote helps illustrate civic contribution

Published on October 18, 2016

By Sarah Dunnett
For The News
Prior to the real elections, mock elections were held in schools throughout Pictou County. Votes for the towns of Westville, New Glasgow, Stellarton and Pictou were conducted, as well as for county districts 6 and 12.

The Student Vote program is run by CIVIX, a charity that works to educate students about the importance of contributing to their towns and country. There have been 31 Student Vote programs since 2003 at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. On the day of voting, some students fill the roles of election workers and others vote, with the goal being to let those who are too young to actually vote gain a greater understanding of how the process works and become more involved in the politics around them.

These mock elections, done by both primary and secondary schools, give a look into the political involvement of young people in the area. The student’s elections answer the question: what would the results be if the youth in the area were in charge the composition of the political offices?

For the Town of Stellarton, an election was done at Dr. W.A. MacLeod Elementary School. Both the results from the public and the school voters agreed, choosing Danny MacGillivray as mayor and all the same councilors. The percentages were fairly close as well, with the largest difference being 12 per cent more students voting for councillor Bryan Knight than the public did.

New Glasgow votes were held at A.G. Baillie Memorial School and New Glasgow Academy. Out of the seven people elected for the Town of New Glasgow, councillors Troy MacCulloch, Clyde Fraser and Frank Proudfoot were the only ones who would have been elected if the students had their way. The race for mayor was close for both elections, but Henderson Paris came out five votes ahead of Nancy Dicks in the schools. If the students had their way, Wayne Borden would have been elected in ward one, along with MacCulloch. For ward two, Fraser and Dave MacIvor were the candidates with the highest numbers, though there was a large gap between Fraser – with 53 per cent of the votes – and the others. Fred El-Haddad and Proudfoot came out on top for ward 3, making New Glasgow the place with the biggest discrepancy between the votes of the students and the votes of the adults.

For Pictou, the students would have elected Jim Ryan to be mayor, meaning a win in both the mock election and the real one. The schools that voted in the Town of Pictou were Pictou Academy, where Ryan used to be principal, and Dr. Thomas McCulloch Junior High School. Dan Currie and Nadine LeBlanc were winners for both adults and students, though the other councilors elected by the adults were not so lucky with the youth. Instead of Eric Daley and Malcolm Houser, the other two council members, based on the student’s elections, would have been Alta Munroe and David Porter.

The students at Walter Duggan Consolidated School would have elected Roger MacKay as mayor of Westville, and the councilors the students chose for districts 6 and 12 of Pictou County were Robert Parker and Chester Dewar respectively.