Mackie students take part in Independence vote

Pupils Colleen Duncan, Joshua Stevenson and Joe Mowatt voting this past Tuesday
Pupils Colleen Duncan, Joshua Stevenson and Joe Mowatt voting this past Tuesday

Secondary pupils across Aberdeenshire took to the polls this week - a year before the national referendum on independence.

Aberdeenshire Council and Grampian Electoral Registration Office will be helping young people set up, contest, and hold their own polls on the issue of Scottish Independence.

On Tuesday, pupils from Mackie Academy in Stonehaven learned all about the issues involved and all sides of the debate, before casting their own vote.

The vote was run in the same way as any real election or referendum, using specially printed ballot papers and electoral registers, but owned entirely by pupils.

Many of them will be able to take part in the referendum on independence for Scotland proper when it takes place next year.

The results of the schools referendum was returned a year to the day before the nation collectively goes to the polls.

Of pupils who took part in schools elections in 2011, an impressive 76% said they had a better understanding of the importance of voting as a result, with 60% supportive of similar events before each major election, and 47% saying they were more interested in politics and current affairs.

Aberdeenshire Council chief executive and returning officer, Colin Mackenzie, said: “This is an exciting project which mirrors what is happening at a national level and will give young people the chance to find out about what is going on, as well as an insight into how the referendum will be conducted.

“I am excited to see how young people in our schools approach this project and I hope they feel inspired to learn more and maybe even get involved in the democratic process themselves.”

Future electoral participation activities in Aberdeenshire include school based elections for the European Parliament in 2014, the UK Parliament in 2015, and the Scottish Parliament in 2016.

Mackie Academy’s Colleen Duncan, aged 13, said: “I think this is a great idea.

‘‘We are getting help from adults who have been through all this before.”