Secondary pupils may hold elections on independence

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

Councillors will today be asked to support a major electoral engagement project for Aberdeenshire pupils.

Proposals to stage a referendum on Scottish independence involving the area’s secondary schools will go before members of the education, learning and leisure committee, as part of the council’s continuing focus on increasing youth participation in the democratic process.

If approved by members, the schools’ referendum would see pupils asked to vote yes or no in response to the same question that will be place before the electorate in the national referendum next year - ‘Should Scotland be an independent
country?’

It would be the latest in a series of electoral participation events run by the council, including those held prior to national parliamentary elections in 2010 and 2011, which saw pupils involved in every stage of the process from nominating candidates and running campaigns, to staffing polling stations and counting the votes.

Following the 2011 schools’ election, 76% of those who took part said they had a better understanding of the importance of voting and of the value of each person voting, while 74% saying they would be more likely to vote in a ‘real’ election.

Although previous election events have involved only 6 or 7 schools, it is proposed to open the independence referendum up to a greater number of Aberdeenshire’s 17 secondary schools in order to give more pupils the chance to engage with a high profile and important constitutional issue.

The council’s Electoral Participation Sub-Group has also planned a further programme of events to tie in with the European Parliamentary election in 2014.