Before they are legally allowed to vote, 20,000 teenagers and pre-teens across Saskatchewan will be casting a ballot in a mock provincial election.
The Student Vote program has been holding parallel elections for students across Canada since 2004.
Cara Maxwell is in Grade 12 at Miller High School in Regina.
“I think it’s important and interesting so that students learn how to vote and they learn what to expect when they turn 18 and go into an actual election poll, so that it’s not foreign territory and they know how things are run,” she said.
She wishes her vote really did count in this election, and says it’s a kind of a downer that she doesn’t turn 18 until June.
During a presentation by the chief electoral officer of Saskatchewan, Maxwell asked why the government won’t lower the voting age to 16 or 17. When asked if she thinks teenagers are responsible and informed enough to vote, she fired back that the same could be said about many adults.
“It depends on the person. There are some people that, yes, pay attention severely in class, follow politics and stuff online and with the newspaper and stuff, but it’s the same situation with adults. Not all adults are responsible enough, not all adults follow the campaigns on social media and the news, so really it’s not that different of a situation from adults.”
She believes the answer to youth voter apathy lies in giving young people the chance to pay attention and take part.
Dana Bachelu agrees that the Student Vote program is an excellent way to learn about democracy, noting that she learned a lot about the voting process during the federal election. She is also looking forward to exercising her right to vote some day.
“It gets my voice out there, like I have a say in everything, just knowing that I could make a difference with my vote, instead of being one of those people that just sits on the sidelines and complains about why their party didn’t get in,” she commented.
She laughed saying that during the federal election her family almost got sick of her constant updates as she watched the news unfold through the night.
Bachelu also has hope that youth voter apathy could turn around in her generation. She has noticed more of her teenage friends taking an interest in politics on social media.