Teacher's time: 30 minutes
Activity time: 1 week
A good election encourages democratic decision making and a respected outcome. A good election is based on principles that ensure it is free and fair.
Openness – from calling the election to declaring the results, keep the school community informed and involved. Decide on clear rules and processes for your election so that everyone knows the election is fair.
Full participation – encourage participation and provide plenty of opportunity for everyone to be involved.
Secret ballot – voting in secret means voters can make their choice without influence or intimidation. Secret ballot is a key aspect of Australian democracy.
One vote, one value – everyone only votes once in each election. Every vote has the same value and the result of the election is honoured.
Define the roles, responsibilities and expectations of the student leadership positions. This helps students to make an informed decision about becoming a candidate or choosing who to vote for.
To become a candidate for election, individuals must first nominate. As a teacher, this is your opportunity to influence which students can take a student leadership role. Do not wait until after students have voted to influence the outcome. Use nomination rules to make sure that every candidate is suitable.
Examples of nomination rules:
Customise the Nomination form with your own rules.
Allow approximately 1 week for students to nominate. Once nominations have closed, check eligibility and announce the candidates.
When considering who is eligible to vote, remember the principles for a good election. To ensure full participation you may decide to make voting compulsory (as in Australian parliamentary elections).
Consider whether teachers are eligible to vote, or which year levels can vote for school captains.
You will need a list of all eligible voters' names – class rolls are a good basis for this.
There are many different electoral systems used in Australia and around the world. You may like to model your election on a federal or state electoral system (preferential) or use a simple first-past-the-post system.
You may need to elect several positions, each with different candidates or voters. To do this, you can run several elections simultaneously, using a different ballot paper for each.
Keeping the school community informed is an important part of the election. If possible, each class or homeroom teacher should spend some time discussing the election with students. School assemblies and newsletters are also a good way of raising the profile of the election.
For a whole school election, consult with colleagues to plan the involvement of each class. Use the Class voting timetable to schedule a time for each class to vote.