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Mock election reveals students would have voted in Liberals

A voter marks her ballot at a polling station in Quebec City, October 19, 2015. Canadians go to the polls in a federal election on Monday.

Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

More than 850,000 mostly underage voters would have elected a Liberal government, according to a mock election held to promote democracy in schools across the country.

More than 6,000 schools participated this fall in the national Student Vote program run by Civix, a non-partisan group that has sought to engage young Canadians in the voting process for more than 10 years.

"It's by far the biggest Student Vote we've ever done," said Taylor Gunn, president of Civix. "Students I talked to appreciated that they felt they had a voice in the election."

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Full coverage of Federal Election 2015

Student Vote runs mock provincial and federal elections in elementary and secondary schools, as well as providing teaching materials and training opportunities for educators.

The Globe and Mail has assisted in this year's program, with reporters helping out in educational videos and seminars.

The Student Vote election results were released on Monday night after all the real polls closed at 7 p.m. PT. The Liberals won the support of 37.5 per cent of students, while Conservatives got 26 per cent and the NDP received 19.8 per cent.

Students counting votes on Friday at Lisgar Collegiate Institute, a high school in downtown Ottawa, said the program made them feel prepared for when they're ready to cast a ballot for the first time.

Alex Ewart, 17, said his dad has brought him to the polls in past elections. "I found this was just like how I remembered it during elections. It's cool how realistic it is," he said.

Schools conducted the simulated elections in classrooms, setting up voting screens and using ballot boxes supplied by Elections Canada. Students cast ballots that had the parties and names of real candidates in their ridings.

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"Before [this politics class], I knew who my parents supported and who my neighbourhood supported and I just went off that," said Kyla Sferrazza, 18. "But being here actually gave me some new ideas and what I was interested in for myself."

Teacher Daniel Case said Student Vote has sparked a lot of curiosity in politics, which often spreads to families at home. "This is a first introduction to voting these kids have, so they're more curious than what we might have given them credit for and they're asking great questions."

In fact, Ms. Sferrazza said she wasn't the only one in the family who was voting for the first time.

"My mother just got her Canadian citizenship, so she's really excited also. … I think it's probably a bigger deal for her than it is for me."

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