Wake County, NC, Schools Registered 1200 Students to Vote This Year

Every Wake County high school has a voter registration coordinator and conducts at least one voter registration drive each year.

The News & Observer

By T. Keung Hui

CARY, N.C. -- Wake County high schools are working hard to encourage students to register to vote in this high turnout election year.

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School officials said Monday that nearly 1,200 additional Wake County students have registered or pre-registered to vote so far this school year. Additional efforts are planned for the 2020-21 school year, with more voter registration drives coming ahead of the fall elections.

Wake high schools have registered 18-year-olds to vote. They've also registered students who will turn 18 by Election Day on Nov. 3 because they're eligible even as 17-year-olds to vote in the March 3 primary.

Schools have also pre-registered students as young as 16 who can vote in the future.

The combination of the presidential election, congressional races, statewide legislative and judicial contests and local races are expected to lead to high turnout this year.

High Schools Conduct Voter Drives

Wake is carrying out the part of its strategic plan that calls for graduating students ready for "productive citizenship." Young people have been historically underrepresented among voters.

Every Wake high school has a voter registration coordinator and conducts at least one voter registration drive each year.

Emily Steele, the voter registration coordinator at East Wake High School in Wendell, said she's asked teachers to talk with their students about registering. But Steele, a social studies teacher, said she's impressed at how the student government and senior class reached out for her help in organizing a registration drive.

The hope is that if the kids are pushing it, then their peers are more likely to agree to register than if the adults are pushing it," Steele told the school board's student achievement committee.

The school district helps out by working with the Wake County Board of Elections. The district also provides schools with resources such as student lists of potential voters.

Possible Buses to the Polls?

School board member Heather Scott asked Monday whether Wake might emulate the Guilford County school system, which bused students to polling places last week. Guilford County school leaders called it an opportunity for students "to experience democracy in action."

We certainly are always open to new ideas that we can take a look at," Brian Pittman, Wake's senior director of high school programs, told Scott. "We'll certainly take a look at that."

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