The Voting Process
What should voters know about voting in municipal and school board elections? How is it different than provincial or federal elections? Why is it important to be an active and engaged citizen?
Voting in municipal elections is the way citizens express their choices for who they think is best to represent their needs locally and to lead their community.
In this unit, students review essential information about voting in municipal elections in Ontario. Afterwards, they will practice voting and counting ballots through a mock vote. In the culminating activity, students will demonstrate their knowledge of voting by creating an instructive pamphlet or poster, which can be shared with a parent, guardian or an adult they know, encouraging them to vote.
We are learning to:
- explain the importance of being an active and engaged citizen (Concepts of Thinking – Significance);
- understand how to participate in municipal and school board elections (Citizenship Education Framework – Active Citizenship);
- describe the rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship in Canada (Concepts of Thinking – Significance);
- demonstrate effective communication skills to share information and messages about voting using our words and graphics (Global Competencies – Communication).
- discuss why is it important to be an active and engaged citizen;
- describe when, where and how to vote in municipal and school board elections;
- mark my choice on a ballot correctly;
- explain how and why voting is a responsibility of citizenship;
- use words and images effectively to convey my thoughts about voting and knowledge about the voting process.
Social Studies Gr. 5 B3, B3.1, B3.5
Oral Communication 2, 2.7
Writing 2, 3, 2.3, 3.8
Media Literacy 3, 3.1
1. Explain to students that the purpose of the Student Vote program is to give students a chance to practice voting so that they will be more prepared to vote in the future. The Student Vote results are released publicly and through the news media. This allows young people to have a voice in the election and have their perspectives shared. Watch the ‘Student Vote Ontario 2018’ video (3:16 min) with your class to give students a preview.
2. Through a whole class discussion, answer the following questions:
- What skills do you practice regularly? (e.g., sports, music, languages)
- Is it important for students to practice voting? Why or why not?
- Why should young people have the opportunity to share their views and opinions?
- Is voting in elections important? Why or why not?
1. Using the accompanying slide deck, discover some of the key aspects of the voting in Ontario municipal elections.
- What does it mean to vote by secret ballot?
- Who is able to vote in municipal elections?
- Who organizes municipal elections in Ontario?
- What is the voters’ list?
- Where do I vote?
- How do I mark my ballot?
- How do municipal elections differ from provincial or federal elections?
2. Have students practice voting by holding a mock vote with your class. You can use the samples provided in Activity 8.1 or create your own ballots. You could also use an online application or software program. It is important to demonstrate that there are multiple races and at times, different rules about the number of candidates you can choose.
3. Show students how to fill out a sample ballot correctly. Students can use a checkmark, X, or any other mark as long as it clearly indicates their choice(s). Remind students that they must follow the rules for each race – if only two choices are permitted, you cannot vote for three candidates.
4. Distribute the ballots and invite each student to go behind the voting screen one at a time to mark their choice. Afterwards, ask them to re-fold their ballot to ensure privacy and place it in the ballot box.
5. Review the ballot terms ‘accepted’ and ‘rejected’.
- Accepted: The voter’s choice is clear and marked according to the rules.
- Rejected: The voter’s choice was not clear or more options were selected than permitted, or the ballot was left blank.
6. Divide students into small groups and ask them to review and count the ballots from the mock vote. One person should show the ballot to the rest of the group and as a group they should decide whether the ballot or ballot section would be deemed ‘accepted’ or ‘rejected’. One person should be selected to tally the votes.
7. Add up the results from each group and announce the overall results.
8. Have a closing discussion and answer any remaining questions about the voting process.
- Do you think voting is easy?
- Do you feel ready to vote in the Student Vote election? Why or why not?
- What other questions do you have about voting?
Have students demonstrate their knowledge by creating a poster or pamphlet about how to vote or to promote voting in the municipal elections. It could be designed for a parent, guardian, or an adult they know. This poster can be done informally in a notebook, or as a larger assessment opportunity. Ideas for possible content:
- Lists the qualifications for eligible voters in municipal elections
- The different races on the ballot
- Voting opportunities – the days and times (in advance and on election day)
- Reasons for voting
Co-create criteria with your class. Sample criteria below.
- Headings are meaningful and appropriate
- Graphics or symbols are used to help explain the content
- The tagline and/or graphics are used to capture interest
- Maps and charts are presented to help the intended audience
TIPS FOR TEACHERS
- Be aware of cultural responsive practices when discussing voting with students. Open and non‑judgmental discussions about reasons why people do or do not vote will help foster comfort
during class talks.