Voter registration drive fights apathy with education

Voter registration drive fights apathy with education

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Turning apathy into enthusiasm. Several organizations are coming together to help get people to polls. And, it's no easy task.

Not many people are as excited about voting as Jackie Washington of Biloxi.

"Make one better; always better," she said. "And that's my thing with voting. We cannot make a change even here in Harrison County unless we're registered to vote."

She came to the voter education and registration event hosted by the STEPS Coalition and moderated by Dr. Gilbert Mason, Jr.

It began with the film: "Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot," which teaches an important lesson.

"We hope by shedding some light on the history and the sacrifices that people made, that will energize people and help them realize what their vote means," said Lea Campbell with the Mississippi Rising Coalition – an organization that is having its own voter education drive.

But the low attendance at the Biloxi event on Saturday spoke volumes about voting interest.

"It's very discouraging," said Ja'Leasa Walden, a former STEPS Coalition member. "A lot of people don't feel connected to any candidate, so they feel like they don't have a reason."

But Walden said despite a disconnect for either candidate, the presidential election has far reaching effects.

"A lot of people feel like it's a national election; it has nothing to do with us. But the national elections also shape local things as well. So people need to start making those connections."

Campbell said the voter outreach needs to grow to the places that count.

"It starts in the schools. It starts in the home. It starts in churches. It starts in civic organizations."

Washington plans to go door to door to share her enthusiasm and help get out the vote.

"We should be worrying about what's going on over in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and worrying about our veterans right here who can't medical care," she said. "Thirty-sixty days before they can get in to see somebody. That's why I vote."

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