Peninsula students eager to cast ballots

Education, empowerment keys to increasing voter rates, say students at Parkland Secondary School

Parkland Secondary students Ryan Trelford (from left)

During this provincial election, some people might be thinking about whether they are going to vote and wondering if it’s worth the effort.

It might be of interest to know that there are plenty of young people clamouring for the opportunity to cast a ballot, looking for any chance to take part in Canada’s democratic system.

There are a few of those young people at Parkland Secondary School in North Saanich and even though they, and many of their classmates, cannot technically vote yet, they will do it anyway on May 9.

It’s part of Student Vote, a program operated by CIVIX, a charitable organization encouraging youth to experience the democratic process firsthand, by voting in parallel with official election periods. Head of the Parkland social studies department, Sheila Stelck, says the goal of this program is to have the entire student body cast ballots after they learn a bit about the reasons why you should vote. The results will be sent to Student Vote and compared with the results of the May 14 provincial election.

Stelck has gotten a lot of help from some enthusiastic Grade 12 students who have some serious ideas on how to lessen voter apathy.

Brandon Turner says voting starts when people have the skills and education enabling them get take part.

“It takes events like this to get people involved and prepared to vote and understand the process,” he said, agreeing with Stelck that once a new voter has that, the momentum keeps them part of the democratic process.

“It’s important to participate,” added Ryan Trelford, “to take something away from the experience and realize that your votes counts for something.”

He said an individual’s vote has their values attached to it.

Kate Service says he own family has a mix of attitudes — one parent doesn’t vote at all and the other is helping her make up her own mind when it comes to voting. Service said education is important in knowing the system, what each vote means and how a person can participate in democracy.

Eric Dykeman adds voter apathy does seem to be a trend as people in many different generations turn away from the election process.

“People of all ages need to be motivated, empowered and have good choices to vote for,” he explained. “Sometimes the choices are not clear and they are just handed to us.”

Trelford noted that B.C. politics is very divisive, adding he would find it hard today to make a choice as to who to vote for.

“People start out voting, they want to do it,” added Service, “but changes to party or a politician can occur and people lose hope.”

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Turner said there are still many reasons to vote in an election, the main reason being people are affected directly by the various levels of government. He agreed that voting doesn’t stop the democratic process — it’s a participatory process.

An area where all four students agreed would help with voter turnout, is a lowering of the voting age from 18 to 16. Already capable of handling some of life’s biggest responsibilities, Trelford said getting the vote early would make people into more active citizens.

“Politicians need to move with the times,” Trelford said. “They’re trying, with social media, but we’ll probably see a change in voting demographics in the next election.”

Service said lowering the voting age would require more education on Canadian history and in this country’s democratic system — something she said isn’t mandatory in today’s schools.

“Some of my friends have a similar level of interest in this as me,” she said. “Some can’t vote but those who can are just as confused as I am about who to vote for.”

She added much of the discussion around politics is convoluted and the language can be hard to understand. Again, another reason why some people might feel disillusioned.

The students also agreed that youth develop their values and ethics over time and they need the education and guidance to become voters. All four have supportive parents — people, they say, who discuss the issues with them and give them the freedom to make their own choices come election time.

They hope to share this foundation with their fellow students leading up to May 9 and the student vote. It will take place over the lunch hour that day and the results will be made part of the Student Vote tally after May 14. An earlier item in the News Review noted the vote would take place May 13. That, however, is a Pro-D Day and students are not in school, do the event date had to be changed.

 

 

 

Just Posted

More Peninsula councillors declare their 2018 intentions

Carl Jensen and Chris Graham, both of Central Saanich, have said they will run again.

Woodwynn Farms to be shut down and sold

The rehabilitation program at Woodwynn Farms is being shut down. According to… Continue reading

Whisky society commits to charity donation in wake of whisky raids

Refund of Victoria Whiskey Festival tickets won’t impact charity beneficiaries

Peninsula scientist lauded for Arctic research

Scientist Eddy Carmack, an oceanographer and Central Saanich resident, is in Norway… Continue reading

Victoria housing provider launches crisis prevention program to combat homelessness

Pacifica Housing aims to address challenges before tenants risk evictions

Sidney’s Salish Sea aquarium to close for maintenance

First extended closure for the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea since it opened in 2009

Butchart Gardens is hiring now and paying more

Wages start at $15, job fair Feb. 20

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Cash still needed for Stelly’s Cross Path

MLA Olsen wants more specifics first

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read