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USM’s NAACP hosts voter info panel

The University of Southern Mississippi chapter of the NAACP wants you to vote, which is why they hosted the Register & Rise: Building a Stronger Democracy Together panel, held in the R.C. Cook Union.
The panelists—Hattiesburg Councilwoman Deborah Delgado, student leader Alyson Gonzalez and Christy Kayser, director for the Center for Community Engagement—tackled the most common issues related to getting young people politically engaged.
“I think it’s important for them to be engaged because you don’t know who you’re letting into your state, your county, or the United States as a whole,” said Nuriel Perkins, president of the Southern Miss NAACP and panel moderator. “So, it’s important to register to vote and look up the candidates that are trying to get into office.”
Perkins believes that young people are not politically charged enough, and she just may have a point. The Center for Information Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University conducted a survey of young adults ages 18 to 29. They found that while 75% of young people think voting is important, only 40% of those surveyed feel qualified to engage with politics.
One member of the NAACP, Mari Tyler, gave some insight into the problem.
“I don’t think young people want to vote today because they don’t have the encouragement to come out and vote for who they want,” Tyler said. “And it’s also not really taught in schools. Like when I was in school, it wasn’t really taught to me. They would just say ‘go out and vote.’ But what am I going to go out and vote for?”
Much of the talk focused on this exact issue. Each panelist gave reasons why young people should care about voting and how to encourage others to care. They also gave practical tips for getting registered and getting to the polls.
For example, they talked about early and absentee voting. Mississippi does not have early voting, but it does have absentee voting. Among those eligible are college students and anyone who will be away from their county of residence on election day. Registered voters can vote absentee by mail or in-person in a circuit clerk’s office.
Councilwoman Delgado affirmed, “If you care about your community, if you care about the conditions under which you live, if you care about crime, if you care about the economy, if you care about our children, if you care about guns and safety, you need to vote, you need to register to vote.”
The website contains information on how to register, how to vote, and more. The website for the Mississippi Secretary of State has all of this as well and is specifically for Mississippi residents.
Those who want to vote in Mississippi must meet certain criteria. Only U.S. citizens who are Mississippi residents and 18 or older can register. They can not be legally declared mentally incompetent or have certain felony convictions. has information on political candidates, including their positions on important issues.

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