Sunday 19 August 2018

House Captain Elections - A lesson in workings of a democracy

Elections for House Captains were organised with a double purpose of also giving students a feel for how democracy works.  

6th grade students nominated themselves for the post of House Captains.  They designed their campaign posters and ballot symbols.   

Campaigning happened in full swing and the school corridor walls were plastered with posters urging voters to vote for them. The candidates also grabbed every opportunity to give speeches and persuade juniors to vote for them. One disgruntled 4th grader complained "They bothering us, keep telling us 'Vote for me, Vote for me'. I can't even do my work in peace!"

As in any vibrant democracy, poll code violations also happened. I got confidential reports about bribes being offered - going price is One Chocolate, One Vote. Apparently another offered money. I heard about some threats too! However, as I pointed out to the voters, the secret ballot ensures that his/her vote was completely secret and s/he could vote for anyone they liked.   

Siblings played different roles. In some cases, a younger siblings reached out to their peers to convince them to vote for his/her brother/ sister. In another case, a sibling was found campaigning against his sister.

The actual voting took place via secret ballot - aka Google Forms. An indelible ink was used to identify those who had already cast their votes.  The younger children were initially puzzled with the mark and then delighted.  "I voted today!" was the triumphant claim which many parents heard in the evening. The candidates themselves discovered that they could actually vote for themselves - a surprise. Despite reminders against them, unauthorised exit polls happened feverishly - with many gathering information to predict who the winners would be.

The role of Poll Officers was the only role given to teachers. 

Finally in the afternoon, results were declared along with percentage shares of the winners.  The loveliest part was how the unsuccessful candidates genuinely congratulated their peers who had won! A true lesson in democracy which we adults would do well to imbibe.

The day ended with me telling the House Captains the importance of their roles, and how "with great authority comes great responsibility" ("Batman says that!" said one thrilled Batman fan!) and how the general public must cooperate with the newly chosen leaders.  

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