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From voices to votes: B.C. Student Vote at MacNeill

By MacNeill Secondary School Students

Published 4:33 PDT, Tue July 4, 2017

By Justin Salinas and Daniel Davydova

Everyone wants their voice heard. That includes the students at MacNeill. Every four years, an election is held in B.C., and for every election, there is a mock, parallel election held for students as well.

This year on May 9, MacNeill students from Grades 9 to 11 cast their mock ballots and participated in the BC Student Vote as a way to express their political views.

In the student vote, the NDP won province-wide with an overwhelming 60 seats, the Greens came in second with 14 seats, and the Liberals won 12. (This is compared to the 43-41-3 seats won by the Liberals, NDP and Green Party respectively.)

Niki Cholevas and Georgia Faryon were the teachers that organized this event. “I was told as a young girl by my parents that voting is a privilege, and I would like to pass on that right,” said Cholevas. “What (students) think and how they view politics matters.”

This year was the biggest student turnout to date. 243 students voted. It was also the first time student vote was a collaborative event, held outside the timetable. In previous years, teachers ran student vote separately, in their own classes.

From participating, Cholevas feels that students are more informed. They now know that it’s their democratic right to vote and that voting is a privilege—one that not all citizens in the world have.

“It took years and years before every Canadian (could) vote, so we should take this opportunity to vote,” remarked Travis Chan, a Grade 11 student at MacNeill. Students also realized that their voice can be heard.

On the other end of the spectrum, Vincent Wong, a grade 11 student, voted for the BC Liberal Party.

According to Wong, he “sees no problems with [the] current system.” His argument was that “while it may seem foolish to vote based on the assumption that our current educational, health, (and other social) systems are (operating) fine,” he believes, “it would be more foolish to vote for someone who proposes to reform our province without having a full understanding of what he intends to accomplish.” Regarding the strong, young NDP support seen by the student vote results, Wong attributes it in part to “media and online influence”.

“Although this is merely speculation,” Wong continues, “the fact that teens are more susceptible to media stands strong, as it’s where most of them spend their time.

Additionally, since we have little knowledge of what our government truly does and its accomplishments, it’s not difficult to sway our opinion.”

Tanner March is a Grade 9 student who voted for the Green Party. He believes that the Greens have a better interest in protecting the future values and opportunities for youth in British Columbia.

“Students have different perspectives on what is important to them. A variety of the concerns being talked about in this election won’t become relevant to them for a few years until they become adults,” he siad.

As to what he thinks led to the Green Party’s loss, March speculates that the Greens don’t have as much experience and don’t have as much knowledge about the decisions that directly impact the citizens of British Columbia.

Although the results of the student vote have no direct affect on legislation in Victoria, it is a good way to let students know that their opinion matters.

It also is a wake-up call for lawmakers and politicians to study these results and understand what future voters are looking for from the Members of the Legislative Assembly. The students are, after all, the future.

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