More than 3,000 Wake County high school students have registered to vote in the last couple of weeks as part of a district-wide effort to encourage teenagers to get involved in their communities.
All 30 Wake County high schools are participating in a two-week, non-partisan registration drive targeted at 18-year-old students who can vote Nov. 8 as well as pre-registering students as young as 16 who can vote in the future. School officials say they expect as many as 5,000 voter registration forms will be collected by the time the drive ends Friday.
“Voting is one of the most important things in our democracy,” said Faith Brim, 17, a senior at Broughton High School in Raleigh who pre-registered to vote this week. “If you want your voice to be heard, then voting is important. It really is kind of one of our civic duties.”
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.
According to U.S. Census reports, fewer than half of 18- to 24-year-olds in the country reported they were registered to vote in the 2012 presidential election. That was lower than any other demographic group.
Laney Allen, 17, a Broughton High senior, said some young people mistakenly believe their vote won’t matter.
“If they don’t vote in the election, then they have no room to complain about who went into office and what happens after that,” said Allen, who pre-registered this week. “If you don’t put in your part and don’t at least try to make a difference, then no difference is going to be made.”
In the spring, Wake targeted students who would be 18 by the Nov. 8 election. But the district has expanded its focus after a federal appeals court struck down the state’s Voter ID law in July, which reinstated the provision allowing pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.
Since Sept. 19, Wake high schools have been reminding students daily about how they can register to vote in November or pre-register for the future.
“It takes 90 seconds,” said Abby Stotsenberg, Wake’s senior administrator for high school social studies and the district’s voter registration coordinator. “It’s not a cumbersome process. It’s easy, and now they’re ready to vote on Nov. 8.”
Stotsenberg said schools will still collect voter registration forms after the drive ends.
More than 230 Broughton High School students have registered to vote since last week, according to Leah Greene, the school’s voter registration coordinator.
Greene told the 13 students in her Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate psychology class who filled out voter registration forms Tuesday that they should give themselves a round of applause. She said they’ve joined a political process where they can either vote to throw government representatives out or keep them in office.
“This is so exciting,” Greene told her students. “You know why? You guys have just joined a revolution.”
Register to vote
Go to the State Board of Elections website at www.ncsbe.gov/voter-info for information on how to register to vote. Voters must register by Oct. 14 to cast a ballot in the Nov. 8 general election.