A perceived lack of enthusiasm for politics among young British people was challenged today by Microsoft and BT, which are jointly fostering virtual elections for schoolchildren.
According to officials at both companies, the strangely named X Project will drag schoolchildren into voting booths for the whole of this week to vote in a virtual election - although with no impact on the vote on the 1 May.
All three main parties and the Referendum Party have complained in the past few weeks that young people are not interested in voting and such projects with schools are designed to raise political awareness with the next generation of voters - or perhaps to awaken their interest early in the vendors' products. Once the kids get into the booths they will find themselves using Wintel machines and BT lines to record the results.
And, according to Microsoft, votes win prizes. There's an award from the software giant of over #10,000 for demonstrating the most imaginative use of the Internet.
Said David Gregory, strategic relations manager at Microsoft UK, the initiative is not just related to the UK General Election. He said: "We want to showcase this and prove it to the government and the public."
He said Microsoft would not seek to benefit from the system and denied it had any political alliances or agenda. "This system is only to look at how the the Internet can be applied to elections," he said. "Microsoft is keen to work with all the parties and with all of their initiatives."
The results will be out this coming Friday.
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