Kids have a say

Mossburn Primary School pupils Hayden Cookson (left) and Rumer Carter are enrolled in the Kids Voting programme.

SOUTHLAND school pupils will be running their own mock elections in September through the Electoral Commission’s Kids Voting programme.

Chief electoral officer Alicia Wright said the Kids Voting programme provided schools with resources for pupils to run a mock election.

“Students learn about and vote for real candidates and parties, then compare the results with the outcome of the General Election,” she said.

Southland schools which have so far registered for the programme are Mossburn Primary, Edendale Primary, Sacred Heart Primary and Southland Boys’ High.

“With elections coming up, the Kids Voting programme is a really good way for kids to learn about the MMP voting system,” Sacred Heart Primary School principal Peter Forde said.

Mossburn Primary School pupil Rumer Carter (10) said her school had previously held a mock election for the New Zealand flag decision, and she was “really excited” to have the chance to vote in a mock general election this year.

The Southland schools using the programme will join more than 500 participating schools nationwide. More than 100,000 pupils will vote in the mock elections.

Ms Wright said about half the schools taking part were primary and intermediate schools.

This year’s pre-election programme has the highest number of participating pupils ever and more schools were expected to sign up before the General Election in September, she said.

In the run-up to New Zealand’s last election in 2014 there were 78,000 participating students.

Ms Wright said a high number of early registrations this year showed schools were keen to give pupils an opportunity to learn about the electoral process.

“Voting is a lifelong habit. The earlier young people start to vote, the more likely they are to keep voting.”

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