NextGen NC is here to inform young voters


NextGen NC

NextGen N.C. is a progressive organization that focuses on registering young people to vote and turning them out to the polls in November.

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

With the 2020 general election only two months away, organizations like NextGen North Carolina (an offshoot of national organization NextGen America) are helping to inform and guide young voters about the election and why they should vote.

Their goal this election; elect Joe Biden and other Democrats like Cal Cunningham across N.C. to flip the predominantly republican legislature. As well as reelecting democrats like Governor Roy Cooper. 

“NextGen N.C. is a progressive organization that focuses on registering young people to vote and turning them out to the polls in November,” said Rachel Weber, NextGen N.C.’s press secretary. “We’re running the largest youth voter registration program in the state, and we’re particularly focused on reaching college students to help guide them through the voting process amid a pandemic.” 

According to Weber, NextGen N.C. works all around the state where they think the youth vote is especially important like at college campuses. They work alongside universities like UNCW, NC State, UNC Chapel Hill, East Carolina University (ECU), UNC Asheville, West Carolina University and numerous historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and community colleges across N.C. 

NextGen N.C. is used to reaching out to young voters through in-person means like hosting events on campuses or partnering with local restaurants for informational gatherings, but due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they have had to shift their strategies. 


NextGen NC

“We’ve been 100% digital since March and so we’re doing a lot of the traditional digital organizing tactics like phone banking, texting, we’re on social media, [and] we’re running digital ads,” said Weber. “But, we’re also doing more innovative digital organizing tactics, like I’m hosting virtual events, where people zoom in and maybe have a training or learn about the senate race. We’re taking advantage of a really widespread volunteer network within the state and then outside of the state of people who are just fired up this election, are sick of Donald Trump, know that this is the most important election of our lifetime, and are ready to help reach their peers and mobilize people.” 

The organization also recently held an informational webinar and Q&A about voting and elections at UNC Wilmington (UNCW). During these sessions, they answer questions like ways to register to vote, how to request an absentee ballot, how to find your polling place, what issues are on the ballots and what people are on the ballots and what they stand for.

“By and large, young people are sick of the current representation that we have in the White House and in the Senate,” said Weber. “And that’s why I think that young people are going to go out and make a change in selection…


NextGen N.C. provides voting information like how to request an absentee ballot. (NextGen NC)

In our organizers’ experience, young people do know a lot about the issues, they have really strong beliefs,” said Weber. “And so a lot of times our role is less about kind of explaining the policies and the platform behind it. But more about saying okay, well, here are our core values. Here’s what we share about your common experiences as young North Carolinians. Here’s what the candidates stand for and we know that, for example, by electing Joe Biden or flipping the Senate, we’re going to get a lot closer to making progress on the issues that we care about from expanding affordable health care, to addressing the climate emergency, to rooting out the systemic racism in our society.” 

Weber said they have found having heart to heart conversations about these issues and the candidates is something that has been very successful for their organization in persuading those young voters who are not quite sure where they stand.

“We’ve also been doing some national polling and message testing of young people that maybe they are not totally convinced yet that they’re going to vote,” said Weber. “Young people are more likely to vote third party than older generations, and so we’re doing message testing around like, what do you believe? Well, let’s show you an ad of Joe Biden and what he stands for. And we’re finding that things like that, those kinds of messaging showing that Joe Biden has listened to young people, he’s partnering with Bernie Sanders, he’s partnering with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on the policy task forces, has actually shown to be pretty impactful for moving people along and getting them closer to being like, yes, I’m definitely going to go out to vote. I’m gonna vote, you know, for the democrat.”

As we get closer to Nov. 3, Weber mentioned they will be hosting more events to help facilitate conversations about the election and the candidates.

“There’s going to be debates for the senate race between Tillis and Cunningham. There’s obviously going to be Biden and Trump debates and the VP debates,” said Weber. “We’re going to be doing things like virtual watch parties where folks can join us and, you know, hear our commentary, of course, and engage with us. We’re going to try and make it fun. But that just gives people the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the candidates and things like that.”

To learn more about NextGen American you can visit their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and find upcoming events in N.C.