From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
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
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
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.
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
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