Young people in North Ayrshire have been given an insight into the world of politics ahead of the Independence Referendum later this year.
total of 1,800 pupils took part in a series of workshops, which were
held at all secondary schools in the area. The hour-long ‘Your Vote,
Your Voice’ sessions were organised by the Youth Services team from
North Ayrshire Council.
The Independence Referendum on September 18th will be the first time that people aged 16 and 17 will be eligible to vote.
school workshops, which involved groups of S4, S5 and S6 pupils,
required the participants to act out election scenarios. The young
people had to create their own political party, decide on the kind of
politician to lead them and then agree on the policies they believed
would address the needs of their local community. In addition, pupils
had to produce a Party Political Broadcast to sell their party’s ideas
and ideals before the virtual election itself.
were organised in conjunction with the Ayrshire Valuation Joint Board,
which carries out electoral registration on behalf of the three Ayrshire
local authorities. Great emphasis was placed on the need to register
to vote so that as many young people and new voters as possible are
engaged in the democratic process.
North Ayrshire Council’s
Chief Executive, Elma Murray, is also the area’s Electoral Returning
Officer and will oversee the Independence Referendum. Ms Murray said,
“Today’s young people will have a greater opportunity than ever to shape
their country’s future. For the first time, young people under the age
of 18 will be able to vote. This will encourage youngsters to feel
connected with society and show them that they, and their opinions, are
“It is important we do not simply hand over voting
rights to 16 and 17 year olds without equipping them with the
information that will allow them to play a meaningful part in the
“I am pleased this exercise will have introduced
young people to a good voting habit at an early age. It will also have
encouraged them to learn more about the voting process and to understand
how vital their contribution is to the outcome.”