Göteborg will be the first city in the world to allow children to vote in a real situation. In conjunction with the election in the autumn tens of thousands of young people in Göteborg will vote on two municipal issues – the appearance of a new tram and the new library card.
Everyone, from the age of five up to the fifth grade, 39,000 children in all, will be able to vote in the Children’s Election, which will take place in the same way as the adult elections.
Children will be issued with ballot papers and envelopes and will go behind green, triangular election screens, downscaled to child-size. They will then place their votes in ballot boxes and be registered on a list.
New design for library card
– We want to capture the children’s interest in taking part in an election and at an early stage foster an appreciation of the fact that each person’s vote counts, says Bill Werngren, Election Committee Director in Göteborg.
– Perhaps it could also lead to children saying to their parents: ”Now that I’ve voted aren’t you going to do the same?”
One part of the Children’s Election involves three alternative designs for the new library card. The other part involves three proposals for how a new tram for non-scheduled traffic – ’The Children’s Tram’ – will be painted on the outside.
The Children’s Tram can be hired by school classes for trips to the theatre or the cinema or for other excursions.
Child-size election screens
The Children’s Election will take place during the same period as the advance election (previously called the postal voting period), which runs from August 30 up the day of the election, September 17. Around 30 polling stations throughout the city – mostly libraries and municipal offices – will be open for advance voting and will be equipped with around 100 green, child-size election screens.
– This is the first time that the municipal authority, not the Post Office, will be responsible for the polling stations. The idea is that in the first instance the children go to their local library. We will be sending information to teachers at pre-schools and primary schools about the election, telling them that they can book a time at the library when they can go there with their classes to vote, says Bill Werngren.
The Göteborg Election Committee decided on the Children’s Election on Friday, probably the first city in the world to do so.
”The children’s vote should count”
No-one at the Swedish Election Authority, the Children’s Ombudsman or the Department of Political Science at Göteborg University has heard of anything similar.
– We have researched as far as we can and we failed to find any municipal authority that has arranged a children’s election where the votes actually mean something, says Bill Werngren.
– In the USA there is an organisation, Kidsvote, in many states with roughly the same purpose and idea that we have. There the children vote on the same proposals as the adults but as the votes do not count they are of no practical significance.
– Here the whole essence of the idea is that the children’s votes should count. We don’t simply want an opinion poll and some woolly speech about ’taking this on board’, says Bill Werngren.
– The way the children vote is the way it will be!
Jungle, space or ghosts? These are the three proposals for ’The Childen’s Tram’.
Previous articles in the magazine Vårt Göteborg:
• Advanced voting at a number of venues in Göteborg in conjunction with the election in the autumn.
• Postal voting will be transferred from the Post Office to the municipal authority.