Columbus High School senior Jacob "Jake" Bandock, left, and junior ZIon Johnson were a part of a student committee working to register eligible CHS students for the Nov. 3 election. There are 125 CHS students of voting age for this year's election and the goal is to have all of those students registered to vote before the Oct. 5 deadline. Jake, Zion and fellow committee member Avani Poindexter will deliver the student voter registration forms to the circuit clerk's office today, which is National Voter Registration Day. Photo by: Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
September 22, 2020 9:51:00 AM
Jake Bandock has been something of a political junkie since seventh grade.
The Columbus High School senior plans to attend Wisconsin-Stevens Point next fall to study political science before attending law school with an eye toward politics as a possible career.
Bandock, along with a handful of other CHS seniors, are getting their first taste of politics at CHS where they have spent the last three weeks working on a campaign to register their fellow students who are of voting age to vote in the Nov. 3 election.
Today, which is designated as National Voter Registration Day, Bandock, along with senior Avani Poindexter and junior Zion Johnson, will deliver the registration forms they have collected to the Lowndes County Circuit Clerk's Office.
"We're in the home stretch," Bandock said. "We're hoping to get most, if not all, of the students who are old enough to vote registered before we go to the circuit clerk's office."
Oct. 5 is the last day to register to vote for the general election.
CHS Assistant Principal Freda Dismukes, who worked with the student committee that led the campaign, said there are 125 CHS students who will have turned 18 by the Nov. 3 election.
That group includes Bandock, who will turn 18 on Oct. 16, roughly two weeks before the election, but does not include committee members Poindexter or Johnson.
"I still think it's important for all students to be knowledgeable about what the election means," said Poindexter, who turns 18 on Dec. 9. "I may not be able to vote, but there are a lot of students who can. I want to do everything I can to make sure they know how to make their voices heard."
In 2018, CHS held a voter-registration event that coincided with then-Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's tour of school to promote voter registration.
The one-day event picked up a few registrations.
This time, CHS Principal Craig Chapman said, the campaign is better organized and students are more motivated than in 2018.
"We started this about three weeks ago when we formed a student committee and worked with (Lowndes County NAACP Director) Lavonne Latham Harris to get organized," Chapman said. "I don't know if we will get all 125 students to register, but it will be close to that number."
Harris said the NAACP provided voter registration forms and information about how the registration process works.
"We talked to them about how important voting was," Harris said. "The students took it from there. They've done an awesome job."
Chapman said unlike two years ago, CHS students are energized about the election.
"Over the summer, with the George Floyd killing, and right here in Columbus with the Ricky Ball situation, a lot of students were going to protests and become more aware," Chapman said. "You also had the state flag issue with Kylin Hill, one of our former students, being out front in that situation. I think a lot of students know what's going on and understand voting is one way to make their voices heard."
Bandock said those social justice issues are the key issue among the fellow students he has helped register to vote.
"It depends on who you talk to, but social justice is the one thing you hear over and over again," Bandock said.
Poindexter said registering to vote is only the beginning.
"When you vote, you are giving someone the power of your voice," she said. "If we aren't knowledgeable about what the candidates stand for, voting is pointless. We have to know they are going to represent us and our voices."
Bandock said the registration drive isn't the end of the student committee's work.
"This is just the first phase," he said. "Next, we'll be talking about things where they go to vote, what they need to vote and, more importantly, talking about all the things they'll see on the ballot. It's more than just who is president or senator. There are a lot of issues everyone needs to be informed about."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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