Charleston, W.Va. — Secretary of State Mac Warner is pleased to announce the list of 28 West Virginia high schools that qualified for the prestigious Jennings Randolph Award for the 2018-19 school year.
The late Jennings Randolph was a native of Salem, WV in Harrison County. He served nearly five decades in the United States Congress, first as a member of the House of Representatives and then in the United States Senate. Randolph was considered the father and author of the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution. That amendment reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 years old.
Randolph first introduced legislation for the 26th Amendment in January of 1943. His legislation was in response to then-President Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order in November 1942 reducing the military draft age from 21 to 18 to secure additional soldiers for World War II. In support for the need of the 26th Amendment, Randolph coined the phrase, “If you’re old enough to fight, you’re old enough to vote!”
Randolph’s legislation didn’t pass in 1942. In fact, Randolph had to introduce the legislation 11 separate times (three times in the House and eight times in the Senate) before the amendment was finally approved by both houses of Congress on March 23, 1971. With the approval of Congress, the amendment was then sent to the states for ratification. West Virginia voters ratified the 26th Amendment on April 28, 1971. The amendment was officially signed into law and became part of the U.S. Constitution by then-President Richard Nixon on July 5, 1971.
During the 2018-19 school year, the Jennings Randolph Award celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Secretary Warner took office in January of 2017. He very quickly directed his Elections Division to work closely with the state’s 55 county clerks to implement an aggressive voter registration effort. Part of this statewide effort included a renewed emphasis on the Jennings Randolph Award and working with the state’s high schools to achieve the award.
“One of the most gratifying parts of my job is meeting with young adults and watching them register to vote,” Secretary Warner said. “I believe if we can encourage them to register as young adults, they will become lifelong voters and active in our election process.”
Over the last 29 months, West Virginia has registered more than 36,000 eligible high school students to vote. There were 15,673 students registered during the 2018-19 school year alone.
Warner said that the Secretary of State’s successful strategy to register high school voters has garnered national attention. The Jennings Randolph Award program was recently featured by the National Association of Secretaries of State. Several other states have or are developing similar high school civic engagement programs based on West Virginia’s Jennings Randolph Award.
In addition to the 28 high schools that earned the Jennings Randolph Award for 100 percent eligible student registration in the 2018-19 school year, another 54 high schools hosted voter registration drives throughout the year attempting to win the award.
28 High Schools at 100% eligible student registration
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