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Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
April 25, 2013
113th Congress, 1st Session
Issue: Vol. 159, No. 58 — Daily Edition
Entire Issue (PDF)
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RECOGNIZING MEADOW BRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL
(Senate - April 25, 2013)
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[Pages S3022-S3023] RECOGNIZING MEADOW BRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL 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 everywhere. ____________________