ST. ALBANS, WV (WOWK) – Elected leaders are traveling to high schools, highlighting the importance of making your voice heard as part of National Voter Registration Day.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick handed out voter registration forms like this, encouraging high school students to participate in upcoming elections. Students also learned about the rich history the Mountain State holds when it comes to voting laws.
“It’s the first chance for these 18-year-olds to register to vote and participate in next year’s election, so bringing home the importance of the registration process as it’s the first step in them participating in this great democracy of ours,” said Warner.
Not only were students learning about the importance of voting today, but they also learned about the 50th anniversary of the 26th amendment that moved the voting age from 21 to 18. The late U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia is considered the “father of the 26th amendment.”
“My motto was if they’re old enough to fight and die, then they’re old enough to vote. And if they’re old enough for bullets, they’re old enough for ballots,” said Lee Dean, who was portraying the Senator while visiting schools across the state Tuesday.
Many students weren’t aware of Randolph’s role. “I had no idea it was great to learn though, I didn’t know any of that,” said Chloe Reed, a senior at St. Albans High School.
Warner says he is proud of the progress the state has made in getting people to register. “We’ve registered 255,000new voters, and 67,000 of those have been high school students, and so they’ve responded very well to the message. I think these students are more in tune to social media and some of the news feeds are pushed right there to them, so they’ve got that in the palm of their hands.”
And he is encouraging those who haven’t registered to do so. “Because it’s very important to participate in elections and to share our opinions,” added Reed.
While keeping the legacy of senator Randolph alive 50 years later. “They need to understand that West Virginia led the way and they should be proud of that West Virginia heritage. A Senator from West Virginia fought for them,” added Dean.
You can register to vote online or by visiting your county clerk’s office. There is also a Senator Randolph exhibit open and free to the public at the West Virginia Culture Center.