Youth Voting rolled out in Auckland schools

Youth Voting aims to inspire young people to become a force for positive change.

Registrations are now open for the Ngā Pōti ā-Taiohi/Youth Voting programme run by Auckland Council. The free initiative teaches students aged between 11 and 15 about local government and the importance of elections.

Students will be able to vote in a mock election and compare the results to the official election outcome in October.

Northcote College head of social sciences, Graeme Ball, ran the programme in his Year 10 class in 2016.

“The Youth Voting programme provides students with as close to a ‘real life’ experience of voting in a formal election as is possible,” Ball says.

“It connects well to the work we do in the classroom on the importance of participation of citizens in their democracy.”

This year’s mock election will be held online and will include a referendum question about safe transportation around schools.

Resource materials will be provided to schools that sign up for the programme and council staff will be available for classroom visits.

More than 11,700 students from 56 schools took part in Youth Voting in 2016.

Howick Youth Council chairperson, Jack Collins, 19, is encouraging schools to register.

“A lot of young people have been saying for a long time that we should be encouraging more civics education in schools, so they feel more ready to take part once elections come around.

“I think it’s great that the programme includes lessons about how local government works and how to participate in the council’s decision-making.”

Papakura Youth Council deputy chairperson, Chhavi Breja, highly recommends the initiative.

“Getting involved with voting and our country’s democracy early is important. Our futures literally depend on it.”

Auckland Council General Manager Democracy Services, Marguerite Delbet, says people who engage in politics at a young age form lifelong voting habits.

“Youth Voting aims to inspire young people to become a force for positive change.

“We hope the students will continue the election conversation at home with their whanau, encouraging them to get involved and vote in this year’s election.”

The official election will be held between Friday 20 September and Saturday 12 October.

The Ngā Pōti ā-Taiohi/Youth Voting programme runs from July to October. Registrations close on Monday 29 July.

Schools can register online at aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/youthvoting