Medicine Hat, AB -- Although their vote may not count in this provincial election, it doesn’t mean their voices won’t be heard.
Across the province 75 per cent of all elementary and high schools are holding their own Student Votes.
Medicine Hat High social students teacher Sheldon Regier says it's important for students to feel engaged in the political process.
“These kids they are really well informed,” he said. “They know a lot about the issues and it’s just unfortunate that they can’t have venues to express their views and what they know. We tend to think that these kids are still riding around on their tricycles but they are not anymore.”
“My biggest concern is that people who are voting don’t think about the youth. It’s all, they really do just go and think about benefit them the most and not what’s going to benefit everyone the most,” said Grade 12 student Roan Foshaug
For many first time voters, not only is the idea of learning about politics overwhelming, but the actual process of voting can be just as daunting and a reason they choose not to vote.
“A sense about how the voting process doesn’t need to be intimidating. That it’s incredibly important and that they will have an opportunity to have a say,” said Regier.
Regier’s student Auiat Mohammed agreed with her teacher.
“I think it’s really important, like very important, because it shows the whole process. It shows them this is how to do it, this is going to be what you’re doing in the next couple years or when you are going to be doing it.”
In the 2015 election, Alberta saw the highest voter turn out in 22 years with just over 58 per cent of Albertans casting their vote.
Regier is hopeful that getting the experience of voting while in school will increase voter turnout in future elections.
“I think we’ve noticed over the last few elections that voter turn out among younger demographics is increasing and I like to think that it is particularly the result of this engagement we’re trying to create in high school and the student vote program and we just hope it continues,” he said.
Another student Autumn McFetrudge is hopefully that a vote like this will show students how it feels for their voice to be held.
“It helps people get a head start to think about how can I get informed, what is the voting process like, and it kinda gives you a taste of like having a voice which is awesome and so empowering.”
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