Young people, especially the first voters, have become informed voters

“In the beginning, I was not thinking to participate in elections”, that’s how Lucian Deleu, an 18-year-old young man from Balti, started his presentation. Until the spring of last year, he did not care about the electoral processes or even about what was happening in his community. “Until May, I was spending more time on the street. I mean I was wasting my time, because I was living my daily routine. After school, I was going out with my friends, I was listening to music, but nothing more.” And one day everything has changed. Lucian found out that after 18 he is a citizen who has a new responsibility – to vote.

“I was at school when I found out that there would be a meeting about motivating young people to participate in elections. And I went with a friend. We were told, among others: if you do not go to vote, someone else is going to decide for you, why not to control your future? And I asked myself certain questions. Okay, I'm not going to vote, neither 10 of my school mates, 100 young people from my town, etc. and what will happen?” wondered Lucian.

In May last year, the high school student took a decision. He became a volunteer at the “Resource Center for Ecological Education and Sustainable Development” (CREEDD) in Balti, an organization that organized the meeting which impressed him. CREEDD was one of the NGOs that conducted an information and education campaign for young people in partnership with the Central Electoral Commission as part of a United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the British Embassy in Chisinau, through the Good Governance Fund and the Embassy of the Netherlands through the Matra Program.

“l’ll go to elections on Sunday to be an example to my generation”

Lucian Deleu became a member of the information team about the parliamentary elections of February 24th, 2019 and throughout the summer and autumn he discussed with young people from Balti and from the whole region about the importance of each vote, the responsibility of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova and explained what the new mixed electoral system means. “My parents have almost always been abroad, I grew up mostly alone and I have always thought I would be there with them, not here. Approx. a year ago, I was sure that either with me, or without me going to vote, nothing would change anyway. Now I want to change the way people from Balti think, I do not want people to be so indifferent. That is why I will go to elections this Sunday, to be an example to my generation,” says Lucian.

Marius Frecauteanu, director of CREEDD, says he has decided to contribute to electoral education after observing that at the presidential elections of 2016, only 22 percent of young people in the north of the country voted. “We presented information in a very interactive way and tried to motivate young people to be interested in electoral processes. For that, we organized discussion cafes, forums and other activities for young people to interact and exchange information,” says Marius Frecauteanu.

Young people – creative at simulation exercises of the election day

In Anenii Noi, Causeni and Stefan Voda, another non-governmental organization conducted information and simulation sessions of the election day. Most of the activities took place after classes. “The classrooms were transformed into competition halls, they competed in topics on the electoral system,” says Ludmila Afteni, the executive director of Tighina Psychologists Association. The greatest interest, however, was brought by the electoral simulations, as young people played roles of members of the polling stations, as well as voters or observers. “They got involved, they were creative at this exercise. Everyone wanted to vote, they were in the queue and we even played certain situations. For example, they broke ballots and saw how the observers and members of the polling station reacted,” says Artemie Catanoi, the simulation trainer and chairperson of the Tighina Psychologists Association.

“I felt important in the role of the president of the polling station. I felt I was responsible for the citizens and the electoral process. It was a new experience and I am glad that at the next elections, when I will vote for the first time, I will know what I have to do,” says Diana Baes, a 12th grade student at Stefan Voda high school.

“By my own example, I will motivate my dad to vote”

For Luminita Grecu, a pupil at “Mihai Eminescu” high school in Slobozia Mare, Cahul, the simulation exercise of the election day was useful and long-awaited. This is because she has been trying to persuade her father to vote for several years now. “By my own example, I would like to motivate my father to vote because it is the only way we can show we care. I am glad that I will already be able to get involved in the decision-making process in my country,” says Luminita, proud that she has learned a lot of new information.

In the south of the country, Cahul Contact Center organized an information and civic education campaign targeting young people. Mihai Cucereanu, project coordinator, tells that young people are very active, but they need more information to become active in the community, including in electoral processes. “Therefore, such exercises need to take place not only in campaigns or projects, but also to be organized each year in school in one way or another,” emphasizes Mihai Cucereanu. The principal of the high school from Slobozia Mare, Elena Garnet, has committed to use the model for organizing elections for the pupils’ council, the composition of which changes every two years.

More than 30,000 young people learned more about elections

More than 30,000 young people participated directly in the information and simulation activities of the electoral processes, organized by 7 non-governmental organizations during 2018. In Chisinau capital city, volunteers from the National Youth Center from Moldova were the ones who distributed information materials and discussed face to face with young people, covering also universities. 12 non-governmental organizations benefitted from grants for electoral education campaigns, that targeted various groups of voters, including people with disabilities, women in difficult situation, ethnic minorities, inmates.