LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County's newly-elected circuit clerk is on a mission to boost turnout at the polls. So she's going back to school to recruit future voters. Connie Ladner wants to spread this message: Every vote counts and young voices matter.
Tuesday, she took her voter registration campaign to Long Beach High School. The gym at Long Beach High quickly filled up with students, eager about the opportunity to vote for the very first time.
"I'm very excited, because I'm actually into politics, and I've been keeping up with the presidential election polls and everything," said Long Beach High Junior Destanie Stone.
"It's basically the side of me growing up and I'm just ready for it," said Long Beach High Senior Christian Morris.
"We're not going to force you to register to vote. It's your option, but we are here to offer that to you," Ladner told the small crowd of students.
The voter registration drive meant a lot to Ladner. When she ran for Harrison County Circuit Clerk, she said her top priority was to reach out to young voters. She remembers well casting her first ballot in 1984.
"It was the year that Ronald Reagan ran, so that's a great memory for me. That and my influence from my dad got me to where I am today. So it's very important to me and something I'm very passionate about and something I want to pass on to the youth," said Ladner.
Ladner and her staff are targeting students who will be 18 years old by the November 8 election. The presidential race seemed to pique the most interest among the future voters.
"I think everybody should vote and let their voice to be heard, that we need somebody to run our country," said Long Beach High Senior A.J. Hargrove.
"It's been an important part of my parents' life and their values, like for me at least to vote and be able to show my opinion for what we stand for or what we want in the U.S.," said Long Beach High Senior Braeden Wise.
"Later on when you have children, you can pass this along to them," said Ladner.
Ladner hopes the students will keep the enthusiasm going so they will not only register to vote, but make sure they go to the polls.
"A lot of young people don't vote nowadays. It's more about my vote doesn't count, why should I vote, it's not important. But it's about getting started and being able to vote for the rest of your life," said Braeden.
On Wednesday, Ladner and her team will be at D'Iberville High. They will try to visit as many high schools in Harrison County as possible before the registration deadline on February 6.