Kids Voting NC is now First Vote NC.
Kids Voting NC was established 20 years ago and funded through an appropriation from the NC General Assembly to begin Kids Voting programs in 25 counties. The affiliates were different in structure but their mission was the same: to engage young people in the democratic process by conducting simulation elections.
Over the years, the programs have implemented various outreach efforts to engage our youth:
- The distribution of civics curriculum materials
- Staffing of Kids Voting booths at polling places
- Simulation elections in schools
- Voting parades
- Youth-oriented candidate debates
- Candidate guides
- And a host of other services provided by county programs
Tens of thousands of young people have voted in elections run by Kids Voting NC programs. While many of the programs are no longer active, a few affiliates still thrive with paid staff and office space while other programs remain active with volunteer support.
In 2016, Kids Voting NC developed a new model to reimagine and reenergize their efforts. With that transformation, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization from Kids Voting NC to First Vote NC.
This change reflected the new target demographic of high school students. The new model debuted during the 2016 national election cycle with a new platform built by EducationNC. In 2017, First Vote NC became fully incorporated into EducationNC.
This is an exciting new chapter in Kids Voting NC’s history and we look forward to continuing our efforts to create an engaged and informed electorate.
Hunter Buxton is the Director of First Vote NC. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in Vocal Performance. Hunter began her career at the UNC Center for Public Television working in corporate and community relations, hosting the show High School Assembly, and voicing the book-loving mascot Read-A-Roo. She then moved to New Jersey and became a Program Officer for the Bonner Foundation. After taking time off to raise her three children and volunteer in the community, she rejoined the workforce as a consultant, advising small nonprofits on marketing and fundraising. She joined Kids Voting NC in the fall of 2014. As a college student she remembers driving 2 ½ hours home to vote and immediately getting back in her car and driving the 2 ½ back to campus to take an exam. She explains that her family was serious about the privilege of living in a Democracy and she had not yet learned about absentee ballots!
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!
First Vote NC is looking for local community partners to get involved and support area high schools in the implementation of this initiative. There are many ways for your organization to get involved.
- Provide volunteers at school simulation election polling sites
- Invite local elected officials to speak to the students charged with running the elections
- Provide Voter Guides or help students create their own
- Invite local Board of Election officials for a Q & A with students
- Contact local media to cover the simulation elections and interview involved students
- Stage mock debates or host a debate party with students to watch candidates
- Assist students in learning how to register to vote and provide volunteers to assist in any registration efforts they plan