By JIM WORKMAN
The State Journal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Carrying on the legacy of former U.S. Sen. Jennings Randolph, D-WV, who spearheaded lowering the voting age to 18 in 1971, is of primary importance – and adds a sense of pride for all West Virginians, said Secretary of State Mac Warner.
Warner welcomed several high school students at the State Capitol Feb. 14 in recognition of their work in organizing voter registration at their respective schools.
The student leaders work through the Inspire WV program, currently in place in 38 high schools across 20 counties across West Virginia. The group was responsible for registering 1,500 new voters last year.
“It’s important to have your youth and vitality in the political process,” Warner told the students.
An annual Jennings Randolph Award will be established, given to high schools who have registered 100 percent of their eligible seniors to vote.
Randolph introduced and helped pass the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. It passed ratification April 28, 1971 and was adopted by Congress July 1, 1971.
Delegate Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, encouraged the students to “stay involved.”
“You’ll find as you grow older, it keeps you young, being involved in the process,” Capito said. “It’s important, what you’re doing. Stick to it. We need young people to be motivated and involved in the process.”
Warner said Inspire West Virginia also engages students to become informed voters on Election Day.
“Voters across the state have elected several millennials in the House of Delegates, on city councils and even on school boards,” Warner added. “When our young citizens get involved, it improves our communities and strengthens our democracy.”
Feb. 14 also marked “A Day at the Capitol” hosted by Our Children, Our Future, a statewide initiative to address poverty and other West Virginia family issues.
Honorary Secretaries of State for the Day who will be formally recognized in March include: Erin Dodd, South Charleston High (Kanawha County); Ca’Sandra Smith, South Charleston High (Kanawha County); Hannah Caldwell, South Charleston High; Andrew Willis, Charleston Catholic High (Kanawha County); Madison Settle, Charleston Catholic High; Ozan Ozbeker, Nicholas County High (Nicholas County); Brad Bordelon, Nicholas County High; Rachel Dorsey, Nicholas County High; Hannah Grim, Nicholas County High; Bethany Winters, Liberty High (Harrison County); Georgia Beatty, Weir High (Hancock County); and Anna Creel, Weir High.
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