Hundreds of high schoolers ready for polling place positions

Being too young to vote won’t stop 1,138 students from turning up at the polls on election day.

Thanks to Student Connect 2010, a program run by Toronto Elections, students from across the city are given the chance to work at a voting place on Oct. 25.

“It’s important to involve students in the electoral process before they even reach the age to vote,” said Carole Boughannam, communications and outreach manager for Toronto Elections. “It’s always vital to provide young people information about city hall and to find ways to engage them in their city.”

Student Connect 2010 began accumulating students’ names in June and the final turnout is more than organizers expected. According to Boughannam, the large turnout is due to 38 schools having participated, double that of the 2006 election.

“Double wasn’t something that we anticipated,” Boughannam said. “We thought we were going to have a smaller increase but we really did a lot of work with the school boards, and gained tremendous response from them.”

The program was offered to private, public and Catholic schools in Toronto. One teacher at each school was responsible for choosing which students, age 16 or older, would be hired. On the day of the election, those students will be getting paid to work as either a tabulator officer or a customer service officer.

“It’s an exciting program for students,” Boughannam said. “It offers them work experience and the chance to be part of that kind of environment. Typically students are looked at in a volunteer manner, so it’s nice that we can pay them to participate.”