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High school students cast their ballots

Registration drive logged nearly 200

Eligible students from Jackson High School cast their first ballots Thursday, Feb. 16. Dary Myricks (far left) and Lester Clark (far right) headed up the voter-registration project.

Eligible students from Jackson High School cast their first ballots Thursday, Feb. 16. Dary Myricks (far left) and Lester Clark (far right) headed up the voter-registration project.

— More than 150 students from Jackson High School voted for the first time Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Butts County Administration Building. They were participating in early voting before the March 6 elections.

The process of getting the young adults registered in anticipation of Thursday’s event was headed by the school’s guidance counselor, Dary Myricks, along with Lester Clark of St. Mark’s Masonic Lodge, and Lorette Baptiste.

Clark said that he and Myricks set up a table at the school several months prior to the date of the vote, to get as many students as possible registered to vote. Baptiste said that the last time she, Clark and Myricks went through this process in 2010, they got about 60 kids registered. This year, she said, they had 183.

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Jackson High School students wait in line for their turn to fill out a ballot for the first time. Early voting continues at the Butts County Administration Building through March 2.

“It’s so important to understand that your vote is your voice in the political process,” said Baptiste, a concerned citizen for voter rights who has traveled as far as North Carolina to register eligible students. “Even if your candidate doesn’t win, you are still making a difference by being involved in the political process.”

Upon arriving at the Administration Building, where voters can cast ballots through March 2 during regular business hours, the students were further educated on the voting process by Butts County Elections Director Avery Smith. She spoke specifically about what they needed to do to correctly log their votes.

Senior Matthew Shadix said voting has “always been something I’ve wanted to do.” Desmond Berry said that voting “makes me feel like an adult.”

Smith said she appreciates Myricks and Clark registering the students, and that she hopes they have another great turnout when they register more in April.

“I think it’s a great thing for these kids to get involved with, and I thank Lester Clark and Dary Myricks for registering the kids,” Smith said. “It’s a great experience for the students. It’s not only their right to vote, but their duty, and it’s also important to get them involved with voting at an early age so that it becomes normal for them as they grow older. They handled it very well and were great.”

Baptiste also praised the locals involved for their participation.

“Butts County does a great job taking the extra step to educate these kids about the process,” Baptiste said. “The Board of Elections and the high school have done a great job.”