Circuit clerk goes back to high school to find future voters

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Lunch time at Pass High School Wednesday turned into an opportunity to learn a lesson about civic duty.

"It's easier when we get them all here together. You can see they're all here for lunch and they're hungry. We're waiting until after they eat, but we have a better chance to reach them like this," said Harrison County Circuit Clerk Gayle Parker.

This week, Parker is taking the voter registration campaign to every high school in Harrison County. Her target is high school seniors.

"Now that they're 18, it's very important to get them registered early and get them involved in the election process," said Parker. "We've got some important elections coming up in August and November statewide all the way down to the county level."

For many students, the five-minute process was a major milestone.

"We talk about politics in our house, and I just feel like it's a step closer to adulthood and taking more responsibility," said senior Kiana Welch.

"I felt, yeah, I can go ahead and take this step," said senior Bridgett Williams. "Plus, there was a time when African-Americans weren't given the right to vote. I feel like, definitely seize the opportunity to go ahead and do it."

Signing up to vote is just the beginning. The biggest challenge is making sure the young voters actually get to the polls. Parker hopes the enthusiasm on registration day will carry on long after the students cast their first ballot.

"I got to register, finally! Now soon get to vote," said senior Kyle McKeough.

"I'd probably mark the date on my calendar that I go vote, like this is my first voting day," said Welch with a big smile on her face.

"Thank you. I'll see you on election day," Parker told the students.

On Thursday, the Circuit Clerk's office will stop by Long Beach High School. The students who registered will receive a voter registration card in the mail in about a week. Parker said hundreds of students have signed-up since this program started five years ago.

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