Secondary school pupils from across the north east last week learned first-hand about democracy and have been shown the value of using their vote as part of the latest Aberdeenshire Schools Election Project.
Every school ran the contest for its own constituency, with pupils offered the chance to stand for all of the five political parties represented at Holyrood.
With 10,659 votes cast, the turnout was 75.9%, which surpassed the last Scottish Parliamentary Election of 2011 when the turnout was just 50.4%.
Votes were counted at Mackie Academy in Stonehaven and of the 10,659 votes cast, 3,592 went to the SNP, 2,240 to the Scottish Conservative and Unionists, 1,996 to the Scottish Green Party, 1,503 to the Scottish Labour Party and 1,177 to the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Pupils organised the project at every stage – nominating their own candidates, running their own campaigns, staffing polling stations and counting the votes.
All of the pupils involved will have the ability to vote over the next few years, with the reduction in the voting age to 16 for the Scottish Parliament and Local Government Elections.
Aberdeenshire Council’s elections coordinator, Allan Bell, acted as returning officer and praised the efforts of all the pupils involved.
He said: “I think we’ve seen the tremendous enthusiasm of young people across Aberdeenshire to play an active part in the democratic process, and most importantly, to learn and see how that process work.”
“If we can transmit their enthusiasm to the rest of the electorate, we will be doing extremely well.”
Aberdeenshire Council chief executive, Jim Savege, said: “The most important thing is that young people are getting involved in the democratic process and are interested in taking part.
“This is an excellent initiative – the young people are obviously very interested in what happens in their world and we want their interest to continue, so when they reach the age where they are able to participate in local and national elections, they are registered and use their vote.”