The School Elections
The School Election Project
One of the great challenges of all democracies is to get their citizens involved in the political system. Declining turnout and increasing indifference is haunting old as well as newer democracies. Obviously, the school is an important arena for equipping younger people with both knowledge and engagement that could benefit the political system. Mock elections is a frequently used pedagogical tool to make the teaching about politics more interesting, and the effect is expected to be increased political awareness and competence among the pupils, and a higher turnout among the first time voters in real elections. In connection with the parliamentary election in Norway in 1989, all the mock elections at the high school level were nationally co-ordinated for the first time. Since then, mock elections have been arranged prior to all parliamentary and local elections in Norway, also including the referendum about Norwegian membership in the European Union in 1994. In addition to the mock elections, the project also includes an election survey among the pupils, and a similar survey conducted among a representative sample of the Norwegian population. The data makes it possible to analyse sub-groups of the age-cohort 15-19 year old. Further, it is possible to compare the pupils’ attitudes and values to the general population, and to analyse changes over time. We will briefly summarise the project in a few central paragraphs:
History and facts
- Financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Education, from 2005 by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.
- NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data has been responsible for all the surveys, and from 1995 also for the election. IBM Norway co-ordinated the elections from 1989 to 1994.
- All high schools in Norway are invited to participate, and each school decides if it should take part in the election, or both the election and the survey.
- About 70 % of all high school pupils participate in the election.
- About 20 % of all high school pupils participate in the election survey.
More about the process
- About four months prior to the ordinary election, all high schools in Norway receive a letter with an invitation to participate in the project. Each school decides if it should take part in the election, or both the election and the survey.
- All information and materials are available from a specially designed web-site.
- The mock election and the survey should be arranged in one of two specified dates (about 10 days prior to the ordinary election). The pupils should vote before they answer the survey.
- Each school counts its ballots and reports the results using the Internet. It is also possible to conduct the election electronically, using computers as election terminals.
- From 2009, the survey is conducted as a web-survey, with no use of printed questionnaires.
- The final results are published by NSD as soon as they are ready. The election results are available in the evening of the last election date, but the survey data needs some processing.