The Central Middle School gymnasium was packed with excited future voters on Thursday.
Today marked the second day of training for election workers to be ready for Monday.
More than 170 Grade 6 voters from across Red Deer came out to the school to participate in a trial election, where they got the chance to cast their ballot.
“The trial is really to put all of our election workers through their paces so that they understand what to expect on election day and are ready to deal with serving our voting community, but we’re also getting our students to participate in the democratic process,” said Frieda McDougall, returning officer with the City of Red Deer.
She said the youngsters got to use a student ballot to cast their votes.
As part of their Grade 6 curriculum, students have been learning about local government. The trial election allowed them to experience the election process first hand by casting their ballots for the official election candidates.
McDougall said students had to research their candidates ahead of time, and were asked to come into the trial with some scenarios that the voting station workers would experience on voting day.
“So for example some of our students will not have ID, some of our students might be coming from the wrong area, so any of those types of circumstances that we would normally run into. We’re just trying to put our workers through the paces and give them that experience before Monday,” she said.
This is the second time where the City has done a trial election.
“We actually have always partnered with our school boards in terms of having them come visit City Hall, interact with council and learn about local government.”
McDougall said in targeting Grade 6 students, a lot of them will go home and talk to their parents about the voting process.
“What they’re doing is they’re engaging their parents and we think that’s also going to help contribute to our voter turnout on Monday.”
Principal of Central Middle School Darrin DeMale said the teachers have spent a significant part of their classes talking about the election with students and getting them learning about what they’re voting for.
“I think this is important to get the kids in and learning about the process as early as they can,” he said.
“They were excited today. They got to come down there and got to be behind the cardboard and place their own votes. For them this is really meaningful.”
Grade 6 student Kessler Bettenson was excited to cast his ballot.
“This is pretty cool because we’re not actually old enough to vote, but it was cool to get the experience on how you to vote and how that works and so we have been learning about it in class,” said Bettenson.
He said it’s important to do some research ahead of time so you know who you think you should vote for.
“It’s cool because they came to our school and we got to vote like we were 18-year-olds,” he said.
Grade 6 student Mackenzie Sullivan said she was also excited to get to take part in the process.
“We get a say in what goes on in our own City,” she said, adding that she’s mostly done research on the mayoral candidates.
She said the process was helpful and her and her classmates were excited about it.
“We had a conversation on how to make decisions and how to make it fair.”
The results of the student vote will be tabulated and shared with media on Oct. 17th.