CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A Caddo Parish organization is working to put high school students in the best position to become active participants in the voting process.
Robert Jackson started the High School Senior Voter Registration and Education Program 20 years ago.
The event, which this year is being staged May 2, encourages young adults to register to vote.
"This is a voluntary program. We promote no candidate nor cause; we just promote civic responsibility," Jackson said.
"We think if we get these young kids involved, they'll stay involved."
The program expects to reach a big milestone May 2, having registered more than 15,000 students.
"We think that's a pretty good number. We're very proud of it," Jackson said.
Caddo Parish Magnet High senior Alexandra Prymek credits the program with giving her an extra push.
"My first time voting, I was very excited. It helped me because it made me aware of what I could do as a citizen."
But Jackson said everyone is not on board with what the program offers.
"One criticism we got was principals were and some school officials were a little bit opposed to some outside group telling them what to do or when to do it. They thought they were doing a good enough job on their own."
Jackson said another complaint comes from elected officials.
"Can you not only register them to vote, can you guarantee they will vote? ... No program can do that."
The national average for 18-year-olds being registered to vote is 9.6 percent, Jackson said.
"This program has registered roughly 50 percent of the Caddo Parish school kids, and normally in one day. So we're five times higher than the national average."
Members of the ROTC program and of the Delta Sigma Lambda chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority serve as volunteers.