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Tuesday, 22 January 2019 10:07 am

Voters just kidding, but it’s all about education

Oct 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

THE Green, Bill and Ben, and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis parties would have filled 30% of the seats in Parliament if kids had their way the last election.

Those results came from Kids Voting, a programme run by the New Zealand Electoral Commission in high schools to educate teenagers about voting.

While those poll results from years nine and 10 students sounds odd, getting young people aware of voting is the real focus.

This year nearly 35,000 school children from around the country are enrolled to participate in the programme next month.

When the Kids Voting program was used in the 2008 general election about 20,000 children were enrolled to participate.

IMAGE: Rodney Brown

Chief electoral officer, Robert Peden, says he is pleased with the increase, but would still like to see more schools use the programme as part of their social studies.

At the 2008 election 80% of New Zealanders voted but the percentage of year nine and ten students enrolled for Kids Voting is 29% of those eligible.

“It would be great if 80% of kids eligible were voting,” Mr Peden says. Kids Voting is aimed at high school years nine and ten, aged 12 to 14, to educate them about voting before they turn 18.

Students are taught how to vote for real candidates and fill in authentic ballot papers. Their votes are then compared to those of the general election.

“It’s based on the idea that voting is a habit and there’s a risk that if you don’t begin early you won’t learn it,” he says.

“The idea is to give young people a realistic experience of the voting process and learn that they do have a voice. If people learn the habit early then it’s likely they’ll vote throughout their lifetime.”

He says the electoral commission has made the programme easily adaptable into the social studies curriculum which has probably contributed to the increase in enrolment.

According to the 2008 Kids Voting election results the National Party would still have attracted the most votes (28.4%), while Labour had 25% of the votes.

In the real election National polled 44.33% and Labour 33.99%..

For the record, in 2008 the students gave The Bill and Ben Party 11.7%, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 10.5%, and the Green Party 11.2%.

IMAGE: Rodney Brown

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