A non-partisan, nonprofit group called Inspire West Virginia is challenging 100 percent of eligible seniors at Berkeley Springs High School to register to vote.
Achieving the goal of having all eligible seniors register to vote is hard to do without a little pep-talk.
“I don’t know what you know about how our age group is perceived, but we’re not exactly known for being aware of what’s going on in the world. I think we’re ready to prove them wrong today,” said President, Inspire West Virginia, Berkeley Springs Chapter, Angelo Cocchiaro.
To help them do that, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner offered some advice.
During an assembly, he talked about the importance of civic engagement and how their vote can make a difference.
“Let’s not take our democracy for granted. We’re always just one generation away from losing it, and so, we now need to pass the torch onto the students, which is why we like the 100 percent participation,” said Sec. Warner.
A voter registration drive was held to give students the opportunity to sign-up, and the coolest part was it was run completely by student leaders involved in Inspire West Virginia.
“The fact that we’re being overloaded by it means there’s a lot of people who want to register to vote, which is a fundamentally good thing, and I’m proud of what we’ve done today,” said Cocchiaro.
The work doesn’t stop after registration; the Inspire West Virginia team will continue to work with students to actually get them out to the polls to cast their vote.
“Don’t just vote but get involved in fighting for whatever issues you believe in,” said Cocchiaro. “Inspire’s a nonpartisan organization, but whether you’re right or left, whatever you believe, get out there and fight for it.”
Since January of this year, nearly 35,000 new voters in West Virginia have registered to vote, and about 10,000 of them have been 18 year-olds.
“It’s heartwarming to me, because they get it,” said Sec. Warner. “The teachers have done their jobs. They have taught the students the importance. The students are receiving that and understanding the importance of being involved.”
Organizers believe that probably around half of the seniors at today’s assembly registered to vote.