Local teens register to vote
ONA — Students at Cabell Midland High School spent their Tuesday morning learning from state officials how to register to vote and reasons why they should make their voices heard this Election Day.
It was part of National Voter Registration Day celebrated by West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warcial guest Miss Teen Internationalner’s office and spe Georgia Clark. Clark, 18, of Alabama, won her title on a platform to increase youth civic engagement.
After spending time at Cabell Midland on Tuesday, Warner and Clark went on to speak with students at Hurricane High School in Hurricane and George Washington High School in Charleston.
“It says in the Constitution, ‘We the people ...‘” Clark said. “We would not be ‘the people’ if we did not get out there and vote.”
Clark came to speak with students at Warner’s invitation, who wanted to impress upon young people not to take the right to vote for granted.
She spoke about being tolerant of other people’s viewpoints and becoming more knowledgeable about candidates and the voting process.
Any student who is 18 years old, or any student who will be 18 on Election Day, has until Oct. 16 to register to vote. Teens who won’t be old enough to vote on Election Day can still get involved by attending rallies or protests, Clark said. Social media is also a powerful tool teens have to use to make their viewpoints known, she said.
Warner, who spent time in Afghanistan as a U.S. Department of State contractor, said people can be killed by Taliban rebels just for voting.
Warner said his son, who dismantled explosives in Afghanistan, believes the eve of that country’s September 2010 Parliamentary Election was among one of the most dangerous days. His son helped dismantle several bombs just to secure one polling location.
“This was all because people had the audacity to want to vote in a democratic election,” Warner said. “Don’t take the right to vote for granted. They don’t.”
Approximately 25 students registered to vote following the event at Cabell Midland.
Teddy Fuller, a senior turning 18 before Election Day, said he wanted to register because he’s been interested in politics for a while and wanted to make his voice heard.
The event helped him learn he could register to vote even though he wasn’t old enough to vote during the primary election, he said.
Brenden Wintz, 17, said he wanted to register before the deadline and would be old enough to vote on Election Day. He learned from Tuesday’s event that identification is required before casting a ballot.
Warner said his office will soon shift from a theme of increasing voter registration to a theme of “election integrity.” This includes opening a hotline for people to report possible election violations at 877-FRAUD-WV (877-372-8398). Reports made through the toll free hotline would be assigned to an investigator, he said.
Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.