During the 2018-2019 school year, an additional 15,673 high school seniors were registered to vote in West Virginia, according to Secretary of State Mac Warner. These are young people who will be casting their first ballots in upcoming elections.

That is great news. The more people who vote, including young people, the better.

During the recently completed school year, there were 147 students who were registered to vote in McDowell County and 440 who were registered in Mercer County.

Another 93 students were registered in Monroe County along with 159 in Wyoming County and 710 in Raleigh County.

According to Warner, voter registration in most West Virginia high schools is a student-led effort. He is calling the campaign a “tremendous success” made possible due to the work of his field team, county clerks, high school teachers and those students who have a desire to vote.

“This level of registration in our high schools is an incredible accomplishment in such a short period of time,” Warner, a Republican, said. “If we encourage young people to register early, hopefully, they will remain active and engaged in the election process. Some may even want to become candidates themselves one day.”

Since Warner took office in January 2017, there have been 128,704 new voters added to elections rolls across West Virginia. This includes many of the young, first-time voters.

The more people who vote during each election cycle the stronger our democracy is. Those who vote help to ensure a greater voice for West Virginia in Washington and effective leadership on the state and local level.

With another presidential election coming in 2020, now is the time for everyone to take steps to ensure that they can cast a ballot. If you are unsure of your voter registration status, please check with your local county clerk’s office to make sure that you can vote.

As a system of government, democracy cannot function properly unless citizens of all ages are willing to participate, and that includes casting a ballot at your local polling precinct during each and every election.