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GCS Student Voters Experience Democracy in Action


Feb. 18, 2020 — GCS students are experiencing democracy in action as those who are 18 or will be 18 by Nov. 3 register to vote and go to the polls in this spring’s primary election.

Starting today, high school students who are eligible to vote were given the option to visit an early voting location as a field trip experience. As with all field trips, parent permission was required.

Nearly 7,000 GCS students will be of age to vote in the November 2020 election and have the potential to participate in the primary election. Students who have not yet registered can participate in same-day voter registration.

More than 4,200 of those eligible students, or nearly 60%, have already registered to vote, well above the national average of 51%.

“Public schools were founded to create educated and engaged citizens, and voting is the fundamental right and responsibility of every citizen,” said Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras, who visited with students voting today on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University. “Historically, young people – the newest members of our democracy – vote at lower rates than older Americans. A primary reason for this is that students experience barriers to registering and voting. By eliminating these barriers, we are empowering GCS students to become life-long voters and to believe in their power to make a difference.”

To register eligible students, GCS has partnered with You Can Vote, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization designed to educate, register and mobilize voters. Citizenship and civic literacy are part of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, and GCS pledges to graduate responsible citizens as part of its official mission.

“Research tells us that hands-on participation in real-life issues represent the best and most memorable kind of learning for students,” said Whitney Oakley, chief academic officer. “We also know that voting habits start early, so by giving them this experience, we’re helping them understand that their participation in this most fundamental right is incredibly important.”

State law encourages local districts to register students to vote, and to keep voter registration materials on hand for parents and others visiting public schools and other governmental institutions.

The student voting experiences will continue each day through Feb. 28, except for Feb. 25, when the ACT exam will be administered.

League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad's Statement on Registration and Transportation of Students to Voting Sites