Group works for to increase young voter engagement

Updated: May. 24, 2019 at 8:19 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -When you think about the ages when certain things become legal, you likely associate voting with age 18. But did you know that in Mississippi, as long as you’ll be 18 by the general election, you can vote in the primaries at 17? As everyone, you would also need to register to vote at least 30 days ahead of the primary.

“That’s huge, right? I think we went into one of the high schools earlier last month and talked with a group of juniors," said Mississippi Votes Executive Director Areika Bennett. "And they were like, you mean to tell me if I register to vote, I can vote in the primary election this year? And some of them that had already turned 18 as seniors talked about I could’ve voted in the midterms last year and didn’t know it.”

Through her work, she’s finding that young people are more ready to cast a ballot than you may think.

“What I found was, in talking to young people...because people don’t do literally all they need is information and resources. Because they are more politically astute than some of us are,” said Bennett.

Mississippi Votes hosted voter registration drives last year and they’ll continuing registering folks to vote. But the focus this year is also on education.

“What we know is that people know whose name is on the ballot but we don’t know what they stand for,” added Bennett.

The organization has created fellowships and ambassador programs to better engage that young voting demographic.

“It’s not that young people don’t want to get involved," Bennett explained. "It’s that there are limited opportunities to do so.”

July 8th is the deadline to register to vote if you’d like to vote in the statewide primaries on August 6.

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