How to take the Competition and Popularity Factors out of a Student Council election

Student council elections are part of middle school.  As a teacher I used to dread holding them in my classroom, until the year that most of my class ran.  I know it sounds counter intuitive, but by having so many candidates I actually had to enforce “campaign rules”.  Students also had to take their campaign seriously.  Standing up and promising to make recess longer was not a campaign promise that anyone in the room was going to fall for, because everyone in the room was running.  Here are the tips that changed the way I ran student council elections.
How to run a successful Student Council Election

Encourage many students to run in your student council election

The more students who run the less of a popularity contest it becomes. Students have to listen to multiple view points and begin taking their vote more seriously. It also means that students who lose the election will be in the majority. This helps ease the pain for
students who don’t win.

Give each student multiple votes

This works best if your class has more than one representative on student council. By having more than one vote, students get away from voting for their friends. By having multiple votes students are once again encouraged to listen to the quality of one another’s speeches, and think of each individual’s character.

Use campaign regulations

You can put limits on campaign spending in your classroom. Do not allow buttons, flyers or other promotional materials to come into your classroom. Give each candidate large sheets of construction paper that they can make posters out of. Give students time in class to make their posters.  For more ideas, or to view my full lesson, click here:  Building Community in Your Class Through a Student Council Election

Limit the actual campaigning time

Plan your student council lesson out and carefully map the time. You will want to spend weeks discussing government, and the importance of representation, and the role of student government. The election process itself should be very abbreviated. Only allow a few days between the time you actually announce your election, to the time students are able to vote. This prevents parents from taking over their student’s campaign and disregarding everything you’ve set up to make the election equitable and fair.

Hold your campaign on a Friday

Students may vote at any point during the day, but announce the results as close to the end of the day as possible. The reality is everyone will not win, and this allows students to heal their wounds over the weekend privately.

For ideas on how I immerse my class into the American Revolution, click here.


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