Head of CoE in Tirana Address Awareness Messages to First Time Voters
Albanian Daily News
Published May 22, 2017

The Head of the Council of Europe (CoE) office in Tirana, Claus Neukirch closely monitored on Monday the mock election in "Ismail Qemali" high school graduates in Tirana, in the framework of a project for the education of the first-time voters in the upcoming elections of the June 25.

The purpose of this visit was not only to observe the process, but also to transmit awareness-raising messages to students and young people in general about the importance of participating in the voting process and the avoidance of the negative phenomena that have emerged in the past elections.

In a brief speech addressed to the youths Mr. Neukirch emphasized the importance of participating in the elections because every vote is valid and sometimes the outcome may also depend on few votes.

The Director of the Academy of Political Studies, Erjon Tase, thanked in his speech those that financially endorsed this program, the Council of Europe and the Swiss Embassy, as well as the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Central Election Commission (CEC) for their readiness to cooperate in this project.

"Beyond the right to vote, you must be all pay attention and avoid the violations or abuses that may be proposed to you. We hope that you as young people will also influence your family members urging them not to sell or delegate the vote," stated Tase.

The activity continued with the simulation of a voting process in the school premises which was closely monitored by the present personalities. The pupils voted for three candidates from their own classes and took over respective roles as commissioners, observers, etc. This exercise aimed to introduce the graduates with the voting procedure avoiding any mistake or wrong counseling on Election Day on view of the fact that similar moments lead to the invalidity of their vote or even conflicts between the commissioners of various political forces.

Officially over 136,000 young people will be eligible to vote for the first time in the upcoming Assembly elections.This is a very important right for which many young people are not informed.

For this purpose the Council of Europe and the Swiss Embassy, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the CEC, have implemented during the recent moths a project titled "Voters Awareness Campaign for the First Time" in the country's high schools.

This project is implemented under the auspices of the Academy of Political Studies as a program of the Council of Europe, which has been operating in Albania since 2007. The campaigning in high schools is built on the positive experience gained from previous campaigns of 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Some 385 teachers across the country have been trained during the last two months as part of this program, aimed to be extended in every public high school throughout the country. These teachers have conduced two hours of informative teaching on democracy, electoral systems, and the importance of voting with about 35,000 high school graduates.

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