By offering schools an online election platform, First Vote NC helps teachers bridge the gap between what students are learning in civics class and how they translate that information into meaningful application in the real world.
First Vote NC offers an experience that will truly impact students with a lesson they will carry forward for the rest of their lives.
Traditional and charter high schools across North Carolina can sign up to participate in the 2020 presidential election simulation. The first person to register becomes the representative for that school. No official duties -just need to attach one name to each school!
Teachers are given access to relevant, comprehensive, North-Carolina-specific and standards-aligned lesson plans.
The entire student body is encouraged to participate in the election. The platform includes a realistic ballot that is specific to the precint of the school. Polls are open for an early voting period prior to election election day. Students are able to vote on desktops, laptops, tablets or smart phones.
After the polls close, the precinct results are calculated. When the students arrive at school the next day, they will have access to the election data. This data will serve as the springboard for analysis by students in the Civics and Economics course and could also be used in math classes.
The Simulation Election Ballot
EducationNC has developed a web-based platform that allows each school to access a customized ballot. For local, state, and national elections, every high school in the state that opts to participate receives a ballot that reflects the precinct of the school. That ballot looks like the one a student would receive if they were going to the polls. The First Vote NC polls are open for early voting in step with the "real" election and close at the end of election day. Students come to school the next day to see how their vote compared to the general election. The only aspect of the First Vote NC election that does not reflect the broader election is that we allow students to use laptops, school computers, phones, or tablets to vote. This feature makes the process considerably easier for schools and students to take part.
To further engage students, First Vote NC works to create issue-based questions that are attached to the ballot. In past elections, students from 4-H leadership teams and the NC School Board Association helped First Vote create questions that were relevant to students and informed policy makers. In post-election discussions, students go beyond election result comparisons with their peers across the state to discuss how their perspectives on issues compare as well. This data can also be used by the academic and policy community to provide a reference point on the next generation's attitudes and perceptions.
The last section of the voting experience is a short demographic questionnaire. This information enables First Vote to present the election results and issue-based questions in greater context. Once again, First Vote NC seeks to lead students to a deeper discussion about what role things like gender, geography, and how you access information influences your view and your vote.
First Vote NC has developed lesson plans to include in a portfolio. They include:
- How to conduct a schoolwide election
- How to vote and why it matters
- National, state, and local elections - what's the difference?
- Local elections
- Political parties and ideology
- The role of media in elections
- The role of money in elections
- Using the First Vote NC results
- The 2020 Census (new!)
While there is an abundance of lesson plans that can be found while searching online, there are several elements that make First Vote's distinct: they are aligned with NC standards, offered free of charge, and designed to be relevant, active, and manageable.