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Politics

Young Voters Are Turning Out In Record Numbers, With Help

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Theresa Thompson
/
Creative Commons/Flickr
Voters under age 29 are out in record numbers.

Young people are voting in record numbers, and they're getting encouragement from school systems and voter advocacy organizations.

More than 3,600 Wake County high school students have registered to vote this school year. The school district's voter registration coordinator Abby Stotsenberg says that's three times as many students as registered last year.

"It's a presidential election, we have seen growth as a district, and our strategic plan has caused us to really make a point to focus on this as a priority."

Stotsenberg says the Wake County Public Schools System promotes voter registration to foster civic engagement in students.

This year's numbers are also up from student registration numbers in 2008, when President Obama was elected into office.

She says students have been responding to teachers who individually encourage voting. And nonpartisan nonprofit groups like Inspire North Carolina have been training students to talk to their peers about researching issues and candidates who interest them.
 

Nicholas Hall of Inspire North Carolina says they group has helped register 1,500 young voters from  high schools in Wake, Durham, Mecklenburg, Alamance and Orange Counties and in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

Hall says voting is habitual: The earlier a person begins voting, the more likely they are to become civically engaged. But he says candidates traditionally speak to the concerns of older voters. It's not that high school juniors and seniors don't care about terrorism and the Affordable Care Act, he says, but peer discussion groups bring out the things they're more concerned about.

"The big things that come up are college affordability, K-12 education, racism, social justice.  And it's not really, like, any kind of national figures discussing these, and so they feel underrepresented. And so it's important to us to show that, if more of you go to the polls, more of you voice your opinions, the discussion will be brought to you."

Hall says Inspire North Carolina is working with teens to encourage their peers to vote in the June 7th Congressional primary.
 

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