With a huge election coming in November, Guilford County Schools is doing its part to get out the vote.
The school system is making a special effort this year to get eligible students added to the voter rolls and is enlisting the help of two organizations to do so.
Guilford County Schools Chief of Staff Nora Carr stated in an email that, as a public school system, the county’s school system encourages voter registration and voting as “basic responsibilities of citizenship.” She added, “Encouraging student voter registration is one of the duties of local school boards, per state law.”
According to Carr, with a big election on the horizon this year, it was a good time for the school system to ramp up those efforts.
“The school system is partnering with two non-partisan, non-profit organizations – You Can Vote and the League of Women Voters to provide voter education and voter registration,” Carr wrote in an email.
According to Carr, the school system has always supported voter registration among students in the schools, however, this year, with the help of the two non-profit groups, the schools will be able to better support that effort.
The registration drive is being orchestrated by the Social Studies teachers and other staff.
“The process looks different at each school and is based on the school’s needs/what they feel works best for their schools,” Carr wrote. “Typically, the principal appoints an assistant principal or the social studies department chair as the school ‘lead’ for voter education and registration.”
Carr added that many schools are choosing this year to have a trained volunteer come to the classes and discuss with students things like “voter requirements, offices up for election, the roles/responsibilities those offices have in government, and how to register.”
If students decide to fill out the voter registration forms, the volunteers will submit them to the Guilford County Board of Elections. Students can also, of course, submit their forms directly to the Board of Elections rather than have them collected by a volunteer.
While school officials are excited about getting more kids engaged in their citizenship rights this year, some area conservatives have been privately expressing some anxiety about the effort. They say it’s great to help eligible voters register, but they worry that it may be difficult for the schools to be certain that the program is implemented fairly and equitably across all schools.
Some have also privately expressed concerns that the League of Women voters, while officially non-partisan, un-officially has a liberal bent.
According to Carr, the school volunteers will steer clear of the politics.
“They do not discuss platforms, issues, parties or politicians,” Carr wrote.
She also stated that there’s nothing new about the school system encouraging students to register and to vote.
“Typically, all high schools participate in these non-partisan efforts, with student councils playing a lead role,” she wrote. “However, with the November Presidential elections around the corner … the district social studies team has been providing additional information and support.”