The ‘Kids Voting Programme’ will witness a record number of students conducting their own ‘Mock Elections’ in September as a prelude to the general election.
An Electoral Commission press note said that as on May 23, 2017, more than 100,000 students from 541 schools had registered for the Programme and that more schools are expected to sign up in the ensuing weeks.
The Programme accounted for 78,000 students in 556 schools during 2014 when the last general election was held.
Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright said that the high number of early registrations shows that schools are keen to give their students an opportunity to learn about the electoral process.
‘Kids Voting Programme’ provides schools with the requisite resources for students to run a mock election and learn about the real candidates and parties, vote for them and then compare the results with the outcome of the general election.
“It is a practical way to show students how our electoral system works and helps them understand the process and get ready to vote when they turn 18,” Ms Wright said.
She said that as a lifelong habit, and if young people start to vote earlier, they are more likely to keep voting in later years.
“That is why civics education is so important and why we have developed ‘Kids Voting Programme’ and curriculum-aligned teaching units for schools,” Ms Wright said.
Fun and education
About half the schools taking part in ‘Kids Voting Programme’ are primary and intermediate schools and about half are secondary schools.
It can be run on a small or large scale, from one to two classes to the whole school.
“It is great fun for students and teachers and some schools go all out. Over the years, we have seen some schools hosting candidate debates for their electorate, and others forming student branches of political parties and developing their own campaign material,” Ms Wright said.
Schools can sign up for ‘Kids Voting’ at www.kidsvoting.co.nz