(Senate - April 25, 2013)

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[Pages S3022-S3023]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


 Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, today I wish to speak with great 
pride about a high school in my home State of West Virginia and the 
important role it is playing in our American democracy--Meadow Bridge 
High School in Fayette County.
  For the 12th year in a row, 100 percent of the senior class at Meadow 
Bridge High School is registered to vote. This is a truly incredible 
accomplishment, and I am unaware of any school in our great State--or 
any school anywhere in the country, for that matter--that has 
registered every student in their senior class every year for the past 
12 years.
  Young voters eligible to vote today are 44 million strong--more than 
one-fifth of the country's electorate--and they are changing the face 
of American democracy.
  They are engaged in their communities, they are passionate about 
issues, and they are politically aware. In the most recent elections, 
they have turned out in record numbers.
  They may be the future of our country, but their voices--and their 
votes--count NOW.
  This is just what West Virginia's own Jennings Randolph expected when 
he was working relentlessly in the Senate to win passage of the 26th 
Amendment to our Constitution--the Amendment that lowered the voting 
age in America from 21 to 18. It became law in 1971, and our country is 
all the better for it.

[[Page S3023]]

  Every vote counts. And every voter has not only a right but also a 
responsibility to take an active role in our electoral process.
  I tell young people all the time that you cannot just sit on the 
sidelines--you have to get in the game and get active, especially when 
it is the future of America that is at stake. Democracy is not a 
spectator sport.
  When I served as Secretary of State in West Virginia, from 2000 to 
2004, one of my top priorities was to educate our young people about 
the electoral process and encourage them to get involved. That was the 
purpose of the Sharing History and Reaching Every Student Program, also 
known as the SHARES program.
  I am proud to say that before I left the office of Secretary of 
State, we had registered 42,000 high school students to vote. And, of 
course, those efforts have continued for the past dozen years since the 
SHARES program began, but nowhere more successfully than at Meadow 
Bridge High School.
  It would be remarkable enough if 100 percent of any high school 
senior class was registered to vote. But to accomplish that 12 years in 
a row is truly extraordinary--not just a testament to the dedication of 
the school's staff but also a reflection of the students' commitment to 
their community and civic responsibility.
  In fact, Principal Al Martine reports that the students themselves 
now take on the challenge of reaching the 100 percent registration 
mark. It's a matter of pride and patriotism.
  The right to vote is so precious because it is the right by which all 
our other rights are protected. So by getting our young adults 
involved, we are preparing them to be active and passionate defenders 
of our rights as Americans.
  This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, but one that all 
Americans can and should embrace, the way the students, faculty and 
staff at Meadow Bridge High School have done. And I congratulate them 
on the example they have set for high school seniors