Chilliwack students pick NDP government in mock election

BC Liberals finish third as local results parallel provincewide numbers in Student Vote program

The numbers are in and the BC NDP has won the provincial election in a landslide with the BC Greens making a historical breakthrough in British Columbia.

OK, not the “real” election, but that’s according to thousands of young people in B.C. below the voting age.

The results come from the Student Vote campaign where 170,000 elementary and high school students — including those at 25 schools in Chilliwack, three in Agassiz and one in Harrison Hot Springs — cast ballots Monday or last week for the official candidates running in their electoral district.

As of 4:15 p.m. this afternoon, 1,092 schools had reported their election results, representing all 87 electoral districts in the province. In total, 170,238 ballots were cast by student participants: 163,923 valid votes and 6,315 rejected.

B.C.-wide, students handed the NDP 60 seats, the Greens 14 and the BC Liberals 12 with one independent in there.

Even Christy Clark was defeated in her district of Kelowna West by NDP candidate Shelley Cook.

And even in solidly BC Liberal country in Chilliwack, the teens and pre-teens picked the two NDP candidates by slim margins.

In Chilliwack, 33.8 per cent of the 1,538 ballots cast in the mock election were for Tracey O’Hara of the NDP followed by 31.7 per cent for Wayne Froese of the Green Party and 28.7 per cent for BC Liberal John Martin.

In Chilliwack-Kent, many more students took part and of the 2,599 votes cast, 34.7 per cent went to the NDP’s Patti MacAhonic, 33.7 per cent to the Green’s Josie Bleuer and 31.6 per cent to BC Liberal Laurie Throness.

Parsing the numbers further, the results are divergent between public and independent schools. In Chilliwack, Highroad Academy, for example, picked BC Liberal John Martin with 57.5 per cent of the votes, while inner city Central elementary picked the NDP’s Tracey O’Hara with 43.2 per cent followed by 38.6 per cent for the Green’s Wayne Froese.

In Chilliwack-Kent just three kids, or 1.8 per cent, voted for the NDP with 87 per cent picking BC Liberal Throness. The most votes from any school came from public G.W. Graham middle-secondary at 688, 43.2 per cent going to the Greens, 29 per cent to the NDP and 27.6 per cent to the Liberals.

The Progress was at Chilliwack middle school’s library over lunch hour Monday as students trickled in to vote in the parallel election, in the same way the votes were cast in the real election.

“The Student Vote program is a hands-on learning program that enables teachers to bring democracy alive in the classroom, and empowers students to experience the voting process firsthand and practise the habits of active and engaged citizenship,” according to a press release from CIVIX, the non-profit behind Student Vote.

The Student Vote program was founded in 2002 with the goal of turning young Canadians into informed and engaged citizens.

Participating schools are supplied with free learning materials and election supplies to help them engage in the campaign and organize a parallel vote. The 2017 British Columbia election Student Vote is conducted in partnership with Elections BC so the students use the exact same ballots, voting booths and ballot boxes that real voters do.