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Students catch election fever

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FORT FRANCES—Local schools are trying to turn the tide on voter apathy with the help of “Student Vote,” a nation-wide non-partisan project that lets students participate in a mock federal election alongside the real one.

On Wednesday at St. Francis, classes took turns going to the two polls set up in the front entrance. Four students acting as election officers checked off the name of each student from the school’s “voters’ list,” gave each student a ballot, and explained the process of voting.

All the trappings of a normal polling station were there for students, including a private voting screen and ballots with the names of all four local candidates.

The purpose, explained St. Francis teacher Solange Busch, is to teach students about the election process in the hopes of getting them interested in it, so they’ll be more likely to participate once they reach voting age.

Once the ballots are counted, Busch will be sending the results to “Student Vote.”

As the real results roll in on election night from polls across Canada, the results from these student elections also will be released to show who students would have elected to represent their riding in Ottawa.

Fort Frances High School students will be casting their votes Friday.

During each election, any teacher can register their school for free with “Student Vote,” which is run with the support of Elections Canada, the CBC, Voters In Training, and D250.ca

The schools receive packages that includes resources for teaching about elections, a campaign guide, posters, elections manual, ballot boxes and voting screens, and ballots with the names of the school’s local candidates.

Since its start in 2003, more than 1.5 million students across Canada have participated in “Student Vote,” with parallel elections running for two federal elections as well as provincial ones in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.

The project also is currently running a mock election for students in Nova Scotia for municipal elections there.

More information about the program can be found at www.studentvote.ca

(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)

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