Empowering tomorrow’s citizens: 4-H Kids Voting Program inspires young voices

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 4, 2023

By Laura Allen
N.C. Cooperative Extension

Election season is in full swing and soon it will be time to vote in municipal elections. Again this year, 4-H is partnering with Kids Voting North Carolina to offer a kids-only voting opportunity. Any school aged child that is less than 18 years of age is eligible to “vote” in this election. This event will be held at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rowan County Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7 (Election Day) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Participating youth will visit a voting booth and use an iPad to vote on a ballot that mimics the adult election ballot for 2023. This ballot will include the elections happening within each municipality in our county. After voting, the child will get their own “I Voted” sticker. Youths do not have to be a current 4-H’er to participate.

Kids voting programs are practical and engaging for today’s youth and can make a difference in a child’s life now and into the future. Benefits of the kids voting program may include:

  • Encouraging participation: Kids voting programs encourage young people to become actively involved in the democratic process. By participating in mock elections, youths can develop a sense of empowerment and responsibility, which may motivate them to participate in real elections when they are old enough to vote.
  • Civic responsibility: These programs teach children the importance of civic responsibility and the impact their choices can have on their community and society. It instills the idea that every vote matters.
  • Critical thinking: Kids voting programs often involve discussions and debates about various issues and candidates; this may happen at home, at school, or among friends and family. This encourages critical thinking, as they learn to analyze information, evaluate candidates and their platforms, and make informed decisions.
  • Voter turnout: Research has shown that students who participate in kids voting programs are more likely to become active voters when they reach the legal voting age. These programs can help boost voter turnout in the future.
  • Reducing voter apathy: By engaging young people early and emphasizing the importance of voting, kids voting programs can help reduce voter apathy and help voters to see that their vote does make a difference.
  • Building good citizenship habits: Participating in kids voting programs can instill good citizenship habits, such as being informed about current events, respecting the rights of others, and valuing the principles of democracy.
  • Strengthening democracy: Kids voting programs contribute to the strength and vitality of democratic societies by cultivating informed and engaged citizens.

Overall, kids voting programs are an effective way to prepare the next generation of voters by encouraging active and informed participation in the electoral process. To learn more about the Kids Voting NC 4-H-Rowan event and help your child prepare before voting, go to the Rowan County Cooperative Extension website at rowan.ces.ncsu.edu/2022/11/2023nc4-hkidsvoting-rowan/. On this page, you will find a list of all candidates that will be on the ballot as well as a kids voting guide.

All the kids-only votes will be tallied and the results of the kids-only election will be shared.

We look forward to seeing lots of Rowan youth voters at this event!

4-H is the youth development component of Cooperative Extension. Any youths ages 5-18 (as of Jan. 1) are invited to enroll and participate in 4-H. Visit us at 2727-A Old Concord Road in Salisbury or rowan.ces.ncsu.edu. For questions or more information, contact 704-216-8970 or laura_allen@ncsu.edu. You can also follow Rowan County 4-H Program on Facebook, @Rowan4h on Twitter, or rowan_4h on Instagram.

Laura Allen is the 4-H agent with the Rowan County Extension.

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