Beaufort County Board of Elections recognized with National Clearinghouse Award

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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The Beaufort County Board of Elections was recognized for excellence in election administration with a national Clearinghouse Award for Distinguished Voter Education and Communications Initiatives (Small/Medium Jurisdictions). Also known as the “Clearies,” the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) presents the awards program annually to celebrate the hard work of election offices across the country. In its eighth year, this year’s Clearie Awards honored programs during the 2023 elections.

Beaufort County’s “Bringing Local Government to Your Classroom” initiative was one of 32 programs recognized with a Clearie Award. The program was a collaboration between the Board of Elections and Washington High School.

“This program has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career,” said Kellie Harris Hopkins, Beaufort County Board of Elections director. “To witness high school students realize that elected officials are approachable and accountable to the public is a beautiful thing. Students, educators, directors and elected officials always leave the room energized.”
The program convened election administrators, students, educators, and elected officials to foster civic engagement, focusing on the importance of voting. The initiative aimed to cultivate a sense of civic responsibility among young adults and give them a chance to have meaningful engagement with the democratic process.

Organizers accomplished that goal by bringing those groups together for active discussions that fostered crucial relationships for future voters. Students finished the program with a deepened understanding of government and its functions, while officials left with a fresh perspective on issues affecting local youth.

“Having local officials engage in open discussions with high school students who will be voters provides hope for the future,” said Candi Harris Tucker, a civics teacher at Washington High School who worked with Hopkins to organize the program. “Officials learn what our youth wants and expects while the young adults learn how to participate in our government.”

In addition to in-depth conversations, the program also included a mock election that familiarized students with voter registration, political parties, primaries, general elections and other key concepts. The mock election was conducted using county voting equipment.

Elected officials from the state legislature, Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, School Board and local municipalities participated in the program.

“The political interaction with Washington High School students was an excellent experience,” said Frankie Waters, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “A highlight for me as commissioner was explaining the county budget process.”

“I am happy to participate in the civic education of our high school students with Director Kellie Hopkins of our county board of elections,” said NC District 79 Rep. Keith Kidwell. “I believe it is very important for our students to understand the process and role of government and the election process. It is also inspiring to see the interaction and interest the students have displayed.”

The Clearies are essential in fulfilling the EAC’s mission to serve as a clearinghouse for election administration information under the Help America Vote Act. The EAC is an independent, bipartisan federal agency solely focused on election administration. Submissions were judged on innovation, sustainability, outreach, cost-effectiveness, replicability, and the generation of positive results.

“We’re in the middle of a busy election year, but 2023 was an opportunity for election officials to implement new programs and test their effectiveness before the increased turnout of the presidential election. We hope these winning programs inspire election officials to replicate them in their jurisdiction and want to recognize all the winners and those who applied across the country,” said EAC Chairman Ben Hovland, Vice Chair Donald Palmer, Commissioner Thomas Hicks, and Commissioner Christy McCormick in a joint statement. “With the rise of artificial intelligence and the increased need for reliable election information, we are pleased to introduce the Distinguished Voter Education and Communications Initiatives award category for small and large jurisdictions. Effective and innovative communications is critical, and we hope the winners in this new category can provide useful best practices for 2024 and beyond.”

For more information on the Clearies and each awardee, including additional details about Beaufort County’s program and participant reactions visit