The mobile voting booth used in Ghent, Source: City of Ghent

Ghent educates teen voters with traveling voting booth

Ghent educates teen voters with traveling voting booth

Voting in Belgium is not just a civil right, but also a compulsory duty

The City of Ghent (Belgium) has decided to help and educate local teenagers about their upcoming electoral duty in the European elections on 9 June. For this purpose, the local authorities will use a mobile voting booth, which will visit different schools so students can get a first-hand experience of what to expect during their first democratic civil participation.

And if you’re wondering whether there must be some mistake since in most countries minors under 18 don’t have the right to vote, well, there’s no mistake. Belgium lowered the voting age for European elections to 16 last year in order to inculcate a better sense of European identity and citizenship among the younger generation.

What’s more, voting in Belgium is compulsory and is considered a democratic duty and not just a civil right. That means that a whole cohort of youngsters will cast their votes for the first time in their lives on 9 June.

Ghent is the 2024 European Youth Capital

The Ghent initiative to educate school kids about the technicalities of the voting process is thus rather interactive and hands-on. The idea of the voting booth is part of the initiatives connected to the 2024 European Youth Capital programme, whose title holder is Ghent.

With European Youth Capital, we involve young people in realizing the city of the future, and at the European level they can help decide on the future of Europe in the voting booth. A great year for our young people, in which they will have opportunities to make themselves heard at all policy levels”, explained Hafsa El-Bazioui, Alderman for Youth in the city.

When the voting booth arrives at their school, the youngsters will have the chance to try it out. Drawing the curtain behind them they will be shown, among other things, a video in which Jonatan Medart and Maximiliaan Verheyen (Flemish influencers) explain a number of practical issues that concern first-time voters. There are also flyers and a QR code with a link to an informative website for voters in Flanders.

Belgium is not the only country to lower the voting age for European elections. Germany, Malta, Austria and Greece took the same step.



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