CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A new initiative aims to bring more Charleston County voters to the polls. It's called Vote in Honor of a Veteran.
Last year, 39% of registered voters went to the polls in the gubernatorial election. Charleston County's Board of Elections and Voter Registration want to change that with Vote to Honor a Veteran.
"That right to vote is so precious and it's such a gift to us." says Adjutant General of South Carolina, Major General Robert Livingston. "Tying that into those who sacrifice their lives for that right to vote is just so key."
The idea behind Vote in Honor of a Veteran is to empower the community to vote, through veteran's stories of combat.
"This program will bring veterans into the classroom," says Absentee Supervisor of the Board of Elections, Isaac Cramer. "They will engage with the students and share their personal stories, their sacrifices, what they've seen."
It's a two tier program. First vets will go into classrooms to share their stories to encourage high school aged voters to go to the polls, in honor of a veteran. The Board of Elections will visit classrooms as well.
Secondly, vets will speak at community events to get voters to exercise their right with every election.
Right now there's a pilot program at Charleston Charter School for Math and Science. Cramer hopes to see it county-wide.
"If we're going to look at our voting pattern from the past and change for the better we've got to change earlier," says school board member of Dorchester District Two, Justin Farnsworth.
That's why the target is students, but there will be opportunities for Veterans to speak in the community too. Veteran Jermaine Husser is with Palmetto Warrior Connection, a partner with the program. He says it's a plus for Veterans too.
"We just want to make sure the warriors that are transitioning back to our community have that same understanding, that mission must continue from the service to your community," says Husser.
Citizens can submit a memo saying why they decided to vote in honor of a veteran. The board will send those with testimonies a pin to wear on Election Day. You can also request a veteran to speak at your event.