As Yukoners went to the polls April 12, students in classrooms across the territory also went behind the cardboard barrier and marked their ballots for the Student Vote, organized by national non-profit CIVIX.
In the student vote, the Yukon Party won the most seats, but the NDP took the popular vote.
The Yukon Party won five seats and received 27.7 per cent of the popular vote. Kate White and the NDP won four seats and received 41.7 per cent of the popular vote. Finally, Sandy Silver and the Liberal Party won three seats and received 29.6 per cent of the vote.
There was a tie in the electoral district of Kluane between the Yukon Party and Liberal Party candidates.
In total, 12 elementary and secondary schools participated and 851 ballots were cast.
At École Whitehorse Elementary School, Melissa Halpenny’s Grade 7 class cast their votes for the three candidates running in Whitehorse Centre. Since the election was called the students have been learning about government.
“I think it’s a really important initiative to get them excited about the voting process now so that when they come of age at 18 they want to participate because low voter turnout among young adults is really too bad,” Halpenny said.
In Halpenny’s class, the students narrowly voted for Dan Curtis. Cheering and jeering followed each tally mark next to the candidates’ names as students continued debating the merits of each party.
“They were really excited, so hopefully that excitement keeps up for the next few years,” Halpenny said.
Noah Bradford, 12, and Andria Gallina, 12, said they were looking forward to turning 18 and being able to vote in a real election.
The students asked about housing, climate change, education, LGBT issues and how candidates decided they wanted to run in Zoom interviews with Curtis, Yukon Party candidate Eileen Melnychuk and NDP candidate Emily Tredger.
“It was interesting, they were all quite different,” Bradford said. “Most people said when they were young they didn’t want to be politicians, but then when they got older they decided to run.”
Gallina said she would consider running for election one day in the future after interviewing the candidates and hearing about their motivations.
“I just think it’s really cool to help people like that, and you get to make really big decisions that affect the world and your city and your community,” she said.
Contact Haley Ritchie at Haley.Ritchie@yukon-news.com