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RHHS seniors cast first vote
Vote 027
Richmond Hill High School seniors at the Bryan County Administration Building Friday to vote. - photo by Ted O'Neil

Most people do not get to vote in a presidential election until they are of college age at the earliest. But for a small number every four years, some high school students get to cast that first ballot.

About a dozen from Richmond Hill High School got their first taste of the experience Friday, arriving at the Bryan County Administration Building about 9:30 a.m. with teachers Russ Carpenter and Jennifer Kea.

“It’s really a narrow window, but it’s great to see those who can taking advantage of this privilege,” Carpenter said.

Georgia law requires a student to be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1 to enroll in kindergarten. Those who turn 5 in September or October would then turn 18 in the fall of their senior year, and if their senior year is during a presidential election, they can vote in it.

The number of those eligible is a far cry from the more than 50 seniors in the class of 2016 who were able to vote last spring during early voting ahead of the May primary.

“Most kids turn 18 at some point during their senior year, but not usually early enough to vote,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter added that RHHS teachers help register about 300 students per year who become eligible to vote.

While you must be registered 30 days ahead of the election, those turning 18 within 30 days of the election but before Election Day can register within six months of said day.

One such student is Matt Frost, who attended with the group Friday to observe but will return Tuesday — the day he turns 18 — to actually vote.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “I love politics and to be able to vote in a presidential election as my first time is even better.”

Frost said he has helped out on local campaigns and plans to not only remain active in politics but also run for office one day. He plans on getting a political science degree from Armstrong State and then attending the University of Georgia law school.

“Eventually I’d like to run for the U.S. Senate,” he said. “That’s my goal.”

Early voting began in Bryan County Oct. 17 and concludes Nov. 4. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at either the County Administration Building on Capt. Matthew Freeman Drive or the County Courthouse in Pembroke. The lone Saturday is tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at either site.

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