A grade 12 student at LV Rogers Secondary is holding a federal election for student voters with ballot boxes at the school and downtown for a period of ten days.
Amelia Martzke is undertaking this on her own, and not as part of a school class. The results will be released to the public before the federal election.
Ballot boxes were located at LVR starting Wednesday and voting will continue every weekday at lunch hour until Friday, October 9. The downtown polling station is located at Expressions Café on Ward Street between 4:00 and 5:30 p.m. on those days.
“I am 17,” Martzke says, “so I am missing this election by one year, but I want to express what I think and have my views heard, and lots of youth feel that, so this is an opportunity. Plus it will get them geared to thinking about this when it comes time for them to vote. Youth ideas should be represented in our society. We are an important part of it.”
Martzke says she has no shortage of volunteer help.
“I have about 15 volunteers from the high school to create posters about the structure of government and the parties, about why and how to vote.”
She said they are getting some of that information from studentvote.ca, a site set up to support student elections. The site states that in the 2011 federal election, 563,000 students cast ballots in 3,700 schools.
The LVR volunteers will not ask voters for ID but a sign-up sheet will travel between LVR and Expressions to avoid repeat voting. Youth 18 and under are eligible to vote; that means that 18 year olds could vote in the actual election and in the student election.
Martzke said the event originated independently of last spring’s student-led voter registration project at LVR, but she thinks it’s fine that they have become linked in people’s minds as part of a trend toward youth awareness of politics.
She thinks the perception that youth of high school age are indifferent to politics is exaggerated.
“Some of the older students become more aware because we take it in Grade 11 and 12, so that stuff is more tangible. At the time of an election students talk about it a lot more. Among older students there is a good amount of discussion.”
Martzke says she is “dying to be 18 so I can vote.”