Head to Head: Guilford County provides buses for students to vote in primary elections

March 6, 2020

On Thursday, hundreds of students piled into buses ready to practice their civic duty and participate in early voting.  However, this event left many students feeling unsatisfied with their experience.

Voting buses were an ineffective use of classroom time

Last Thursday, Guilford County Schools sent buses to Northwest Guilford High School to transport eligible juniors and seniors to participate in early voting in the primary election.  While the premise of the event seemed good, the execution, however, was flawed.

Junior Tyler Kibble is one student who voted last Thursday.  While he thought that Guilford County Schools had a good intention in sending students to vote, it was not executed as effectively.

“We left around like 10:30,” Kibble said. “And then we didn’t get back until 1:05 or 1:15. We arrived, we were told that only half of the students from Northwest (bus that left at 9:30) had voted at that point.”

In addition, students felt that there was a lack of communication between the event organizers, students, and teachers.

“A lot of people were unhappy because (they) became hungry,” Kibble said.  “When we came back, it was also tough to adjust the lunches because we missed first and second lunch and we were halfway through third lunch (when we got back). Some students missed their whole fourth period the delays that occurred.”

In addition to delays and a lack of planning, many students did not want to vote.

“I believe that it is good for us to be able to practice our duty as citizens.  I believe that it is important for everyone who has an opinion to vote.  However, I feel like there was a large group of students throughout the county who did not have a strong opinion or were not well informed and they took the trip just to get out of class,” senior Blake Sullivan said.

I just wish it was done better.”

— Kibble

Instead of practicing their civic duty as many school officials had hoped, students were unprepared and was not a good use of classroom time, rendering this trip ineffective.  Kibble agreed with Sullivan’s remarks.

“I think it was a good idea to give (students) the option to practice their civic duty,” Kibble said. “However, I think most people, including myself, were not as prepared as they should be. I’m definitely willing to (vote) again. However, I just wish it was done better.”

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Northwest promotes positive civic engagement in students eligible to vote

Last Thursday, students who would be 18 years of age by the time the general election rolls around were given the opportunity to vote through the school. This allowed students a chance to become better informed through the unbiased site GCS provided with an “about” section on all candidates, as well as allowed the students a chance to go vote if they otherwise had no time to do so. If a student had work or extracurriculars, for instance, until polling time ended, they would not have had the chance to cast their vote if not for this new idea by GCS. While it was overall a great success and fought against the United States’ worst enemy to democracy (lack of voter turnout), not all were happy about the idea. Voices could be heard around the school complaining that this action by GCS was promoting the “progressive agenda” by forcing turnout from younger voters, who are generally more left. This point, though, is completely unfounded and too easy to disprove. 

I think they (GCS) promoted voting in a very fair way,”

— Skye Handley

“They never said, ‘You have to vote for this person/party,’” Junior Skye Handley said. 

GCS promoting voting among students is simply encouraging political activity, something which every up and coming adult should be engaged in. Those who critiqued the idea suggesting it was promoting the liberal agenda are simply uninformed, because while they were promoting voter turnout, GCS never influenced the students’ decision. Half a day in the students’ English classes was dedicated to providing them a time to research candidates on their own. An unbiased website was available as a reference, but students were ultimately allowed to research on their own before the vote, therefore able to make their own informed decisions. Parents with students who have more left views than them may be unhappy, but would one really not allow their eligible child to vote simply because they wouldn’t vote for the same party? This is simply absurd and every voter is allowed to make his/her decisions about who they want to vote for and why.

“I think voting is important because not many parents really show you how to do it, but they’ll get onto you to do it (vote),” Handley said. 

Parents have a heavy influence on their children’s political perspective, any reputable study will tell you that. Blaming the school system for “indoctrinating” children to lean more Democrat is absurd, because the parents have the biggest part to play. Parents really need to take a step back and reevaluate their positions, because if they really are so unhappy with the school promoting voting and allowing their child a chance to be a politically active citizen, then perhaps they should have spent more time with the child teaching them about voting. Ultimately, the voting idea was a great opportunity for students to get out there and vote, and was a great learning experience for next year.

“I do think that the voting process could have been more informative, especially with the bussing situation, but overall considering it was new I think it was well laid out and pretty easy for everyone to follow,” Handley said.

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