Give each pupil a copy of the thumb flashcard from Resource 4.1. Then, read out a number of statements in Resource 4.2. These relate to the impact of the EU on Northern Ireland and its citizens. Ask your pupils to hold the thumb flash card in the direction that indicates if they agree with a statement, disagree with the statement, or are undecided.
Next, place your pupils into groups of four and provide each group with a copy of the tally sheet in Resource 4.3, which lists the same statements you just presented. Each group is to:
discuss each statement;
come to a consensus about whether it is good or bad for Northern Ireland (or can’t decide); and
record their decision on the tally sheet.
Alternatively, use a three-cornered walking debate.
Ask your pupils to share with the class what influenced their choices. Why did they choose a particular stance on a statement? Did they feel very strongly about a particular statement and why? Were they convinced to change their decision and why?
Consider using the questions in Resource 4.4 to structure this activity.
You may wish to discuss and investigate these issues further, so we have provided additional information in the teacher’s notes in Resource 4.5.
Inform the class that they are going to hold a European election. Explain that everyone will have a role to play and that they will have to make lots of decisions together as a class.
Using the information in Resource 4.6, describe the single transferable vote (STV) system of voting and why it some consider it more fair than other types of voting. Playing the presentation on www.? on your classroom’s whiteboard may also help your pupils understand how the STV system works. Another useful resource is available online at:
Remind them of what they learned in Session 1 Activity 5 about universal suffrage and voting in European elections: who can and cannot vote, age requirements, etc. Source and show them an example of a ballot paper and explain to them what sort of things will spoil a ballot as well as what happens to votes on a spoiled ballot.
Deciding on Election Details and Procedures
Next, use the following key questions to agree as a class the procedures for your European election activity:
What should the voting eligibility criteria be: currently enrolled students only, no age restriction, etc?
Should voting be compulsory or not, and why?
Should a voter’s preferences be kept secret, and why?
Will the election to be undertaken in a single class, as a year group or the by the whole school (see Resource 4.6 for guidance on how many seats and candidates to establish for each option)?
How will they develop the electoral register? (Obtaining a current school roll from the school administration office might be an easy option if the class decides on compulsory voting.)
How will they determine voters’ identities on polling day? Will identity be confirmed using lunch cards, library cards or some other form of ID? Will they use an approach similar to that used in European elections:
— In European elections, ID is generally determined by having voters produce specific photographic identification at the voting booth. The electoral officer then checks off the voter against the electoral register. Voters may be denied their vote if they do not have the correct ID papers or if they are not on the register.
How will they check off voters’ identities on election day? For example, will they use an up-to-date electoral register/school roll?
How will they prevent forgery of ballot papers? For example, will ballot papers have unique numbers that can be checked off to avoid forgery?
On what date will they hold their election?
If you conduct this election activity only on a class level, divide the class into four groups. If you conduct it on a year group or whole-school level, divide the class into five groups.
How Ballot Transfer Works
Explain to your pupils the transfer aspect of the STV. You may want to play the presentation 'Understanding a Single Transferrable Voting system' video from the resources at the bottom of this activity on the whiteboard again as a reminder.
Conclude by discussing whether they think the STV is a fair voting system and why. Discuss whether it is important to make use of lower preferences.
You may want to point out that in a multi-seat constituency, a popular candidate is more likely to get elected at the first count and his voters are more likely to influence the election of other candidates than in a single seat constituency. However, to gain maximum impact in multi-seat constituencies, parties sometime opt to enter multiple candidates and, thus, get the maximum benefit from transfers.
Instructions for Class/Small Year-Group Election
Provide each of the four groups with copies of Resources 4.7-4.8. Explain that they are each to form a political party and must develop a five-point manifesto on the EU. They must also devise:
a party symbol;
election posters (with pictures of the candidates);
other promotional materials for the election.
When their manifestos and party’s promotional materials are complete, invite the parties to a pre-election candidates’ debate. Encourage the groups to discuss how they will structure their arguments and how they will organise their information effectively, having regard for their audience. Remind them to assign each member a role, for example first speaker, chairperson, final speaker, etc.
Refer your pupils to these websites (links at the bottom of this activity) if they need to be reminded of how to conduct a formal debate:
"BBC Newsround - Debating"
"Debate Advice and Suggestions"
Resource 4.9 may also be useful in helping them organise and present their thoughts.
Use the election checklist in Resource 4.10 to help you and your class complete the rest of the steps necessary to carry out the election.
Instructions for Year Group/Whole-School Election
For four of the groups, explain their tasks as stated above for a class/small year-group election. For the fifth group, called The Election Group, explain that they will be responsible for developing the ballot paper and the electoral register. They will also count/submit the votes and make the announcements on Election Day. Provide this group with copies of Resources 4.11 and 4.12 for a summary of their tasks and responsibilities during the election.
On Election Day, have The Election Group arrange for pupils to complete the ballot papers confidentially. As discussed, undertake measures to avoid (for example giving each ballot paper a unique number or checking the electoral register to avoid multiple voting, etc.).
Close the polls at the agreed time. Instruct The Election Group to begin the counting process. You could invite the candidates to oversee the process. Remember to use the automated voting tool from the resources below.
The Election Group should announce the final result and share the total number of votes cast and spoiled.
When the election is over and the results are announced, invite the candidates to make short speeches – thanking their election teams, the voters and the election group.