Elementary students learn about municipal government

by Brittany Wentzell

Nova Scotians went to the polls on October 15 but for thousands of students in the province, vote day was on October 13.

Kids at Newcombville Elementary School were among 10,000 students who took part in Student Vote Day, a program operated by CIVIX, a Canadian civic education charity. The group has been putting on student votes since 2003, and in the last federal election, nearly one million students participated.

On vote day, it's a little chaotic at Newcombville Elementary. There's lots of talking, a bit of yelling, but also an order to all the chaos. Students line up to mimic getting rides to the polls, and once there, they're greeted by a young girl who checks their "ID cards." After that, the students head over to a clerk who checks off their names, gives them a ballot, and sends them off to make their mark.

Krystal Munro, a teacher and organizer with the student vote, says students have shown interest in municipal election and asked questions about candidates' platforms and how municipal government works. Candidates for mayor and for District 4 of the Municipality of Lunenburg were also on hand to speak to students over the past couple weeks.

  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTOS</p><p>Raeann Young casts her vote at a mock election at Newcombville Elementary on October 13.</p>
  • <p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p><p>Darius Merry, Darsea Griffith, and Kaitlyn Wile man the ballot boxes during the student vote.</p>
  • <p>Poll clerks Jude Wile, McKenna Frausel, Avery Veinotte, Lydia Hebb, Austin Greek, Keegan Forrest, and Taylor Whynot make sure all of the students have their &#8220;IDs&#8221; in order.</p>

"They asked, how would you celebrate? What would you do if you won? What are some good qualities of a mayor? What makes you someone I would want to vote for?" said Munro. "They're asking about roads, they're asking about garbage, recycling, recreation activities, parks."

Many of these issues come from discussions the students hear at home or have had with their teachers and classmates.

When school board representative Jennifer Naugler came to answer questions, some students took the opportunity to discuss school board boundaries and how to handle going to school with separated parents who live in different areas.

And as Munro discusses the program, some students start talking about Donald Trump.

"He comes up a lot," she laughed.

Grade 3 to 5 students at Newcombville Elementary School have been taking part in student votes for years, although this is their first run at municipal elections.

"The last three elections almost mirrored, percentage to percentage with what the 19 years and older had voted in the community," she said.

Results of the student election were revealed only after the polls closed across Nova Scotia, and Newcombville students' choices seem to have once again mirrored those of their parents. Incumbent John Veinotte beat Andrew Feener for District 4, although not by as wide a margin as he did for the real election. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson received 53 per cent of the student vote for the position of mayor, while opponent Tom Lockwood received 31 per cent.

To check out results from other municipalities in Nova Scotia visit: http://studentvote.ca/nsmunicipal2016/the-results/

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