Students at Raleigh Charter High School, along with other high schoolers throughout Raleigh, voted today using ballots similar to the ones residents will find at the real polls.
These ballots, however, were filled out using laptops at desks. First Vote NC, an EducationNC initiative, aims to simulate the voting experience for North Carolina’s high schoolers to help them graduate civic-ready.
The voting lasted around 10 minutes, and history teachers Shayne Klein and Melani Winter provided political affiliations of mayoral and city council candidates so that students who were not familiar with the names would make informed decisions.
“Just do your best,” Winter said as students opened laptops and clicked through their responses.
Sophomore Katie Esleeck said she found the experience easy and helpful.
“Even though it’s not real and doesn’t really count, it’s nice to have a little bit of practice I guess before you go 18 and vote for presidents,” Esleeck said.
Esleeck and fellow sophomore Jack Abplanalp said they recognized some of the names on the ballot from posters but were not familiar with a lot of the local candidates’ platforms. They both agreed that local elections are important, but said they pay more attention to presidential campaigns and elections. Abplanalp said he sees voting as a responsibility.
“Voting is one of our civic duties, so when you turn 18 you should be voting,” he said, adding that the First Vote experience was useful preparation. “It’s not motivating me as much because I already want to vote when I’m 18, but it’s good practice.”
Esleeck said she plans to vote as soon as she can.
“I definitely want to vote when I’m 18 because it’s nice to have kind of a say in what happens and I definitely think it’s important.”