Student Vote Program Encourages Life-Long Voters

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / gina_sanders

While the Ontario election is not until Thursday, across the province students in Grades 5 to 12, have been casting ballots the past few days.

This is the fifth election for Student Vote Ontario since 2003, and this time 300,000 students at more than 2,800 schools are taking part.

Director of Content at CIVIX Canada Dan Allan says the hope is student voters will become life-long voters. While there is no long-term research yet to suggest the program has had any impact on Ontario’s low voter turnout, he says the research they have is encouraging.

“We survey the students who take part, both before the vote and after the vote, and what we found is that students who take part have gone from being not sure about voting to overwhelmingly like, yes. They do see the value in being engaged,” he says.

And not just that, but Allan says some of the students share their newfound enthusiasm with their families.

“More often than hearing that its parents who influence how their kids vote, we’re often hearing about students who learn about issues, and parties and elections are talking to their parents at home, making their parents more likely to vote,” says Allan.

So how do kids vote?

Allan says often the results mirror the real election results. In 2014, the majority of students voted for the Liberal Party. The Liberals won a majority government in that election. In 2011, the students showed stronger support for the NDP.

The results of the student election will not be released until after the polls close on Thursday. Allan says they should be released online around 9pm that night.