In the run up to the English local elections on May 4, schools, colleges and youth groups are being invited to recreate the excitement and mass participation of real election campaigns by taking part in the Y Vote Mock Local Elections 2006. They are run by the Hansard Society and supported by the Electoral Commission and the Department for Education and Skills.The Mock Local Elections aim to give young people the opportunity to learn about the political process and the issues affecting their communities in a fun and active way. Pupils are encouraged to stand as party candidates, to take part as speech writers and canvassers as well as follow the process of the election from registering to vote right through to the count.
In 2005, the Y Vote Mock Elections celebrated a record turnout with 800,000 students from over 2100 schools taking part. However, in the General Election, turnout among 18-24 year olds sunk to a new low of 37%, with many young people citing a lack of knowledge about the electoral process as their reason for not participating.
Supporting the project, Beverly Hughes MP, Minister of State for Children and Families said: “It is vital that we work creatively with young people to stimulate their interest in and understanding of formal political processes and encourage them to vote when they reach 18. The Y Vote Mock Elections are an imaginative way for young people to get a real taste for active democracy. This project develops pupils’ awareness of how political processes work, how decisions are made and how individuals can play a part.