Briana Heaney Published

100,000th Student Registers At Voter Registration Drive

A group of people stand behind a sign with the number 100,000.
Secretary of State Mac Warner stands with 100,000th student to register to vote Rico Franquez.
Landon Palmer. WV Secretary of State's office.

State and local officials helped register students to vote today at Capital High School. Rico Franquez was the 100,000th high school student to register to vote since Secretary of State Mac Warner took office in 2017.

Warner, Elections Divisions Director Brittany Westfall, and County Clerk Vera McCormick talked to students about the importance of civic engagement. 

The event also celebrated U.S. Sen. Jennings Randolph who worked to pass the 26th Amendment. Randolph was a West Virginia native and represented the state from 1958 to 1985. Lee Dean impersonated the late senator during the presentation. He said Randolph believed that if U.S. citizens under the age of 21 were old enough to fight then they should be old enough to vote. 

“Old enough for Bullets, Old enough for Ballots slogan really resonated with young people at the time and I believe it still does,” Dean said. 

Warner said that West Virginia has a legacy of getting young people involved in politics. He named Saira Blair the youngest legislator ever elected, and Caleb Hanna as the youngest African American elected to office. 

“When people hear about other 18 and19 year olds getting elected to office, they’re like, well, I could do that, too. And that’s the importance of coming out and telling that story and making them feel part of this proud legacy that West Virginia has,” Warner said. 

Warner said that one of the biggest challenges that the state faces is young people moving away. 

“We spend all this time and effort educating them. And then when they take off to Charlotte, or Denver or somewhere, we lose that talent,” Warner said. “And so we want to keep them here. And this voter registration drive gives them that opportunity to feel part of the process.” 

He said staying engaged with what is happening in the student’s community ties them to those communities.

Any West Virginia high school that registers at least 85 percent of their eligible students to vote will receive the Jennings Randolph Award for Civic Engagement.