LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Reginald Williams, 18, votes in his first presidential election Tuesday afternoon at the Duncan Park canteen.

First-time voters find their voice

Published 1:41am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NATCHEZ — Two local teenagers say they took the most important step to making their voices heard across America for the first time Tuesday.

Natchez High School senior Reginald Williams and Copiah-Lincoln Community College freshman Shamoni Jenkins cast their votes for the first time in Tuesday’s presidential election.

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Williams voted at Duncan Park Canteen with his father, who was also voting for the first time.

“It was exciting,” Williams said. “I was felt like I was putting my voice out there.”

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Shamoni Jenkins, 19, center, checks in with a poll worker with her mother April, left, and younger sister Shanera, 9, right, before voting for the first time Tuesday afternoon at the Duncan Park canteen.

Voting for the first time meant a great deal to Williams, he said.

“My dad was excited, and I was excited, and I was glad we both went together,” he said.

Williams said the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney drew him to the polls.

“(The presidential race) has been getting a lot of attention, and I have been keeping up with and watched the debates,” Williams said. “For me, Obama was the clear choice.”

Jenkins said she was a bit overwhelmed when she stepped in front of the voting machine Tuesday.

“It seems so important to everyone, and it’s important to me, I was nervous,” she said.

Her decision Tuesday, Jenkins said, helps determine the future of this country.

“It will especially determine the future of our younger generation.

Williams said he believes a lot of people believe that their votes do not matter.

“Every vote really does matter, because if you don’t vote, your voice won’t be heard,” he said. “I just want people to remember that, and I don’t want people to feel like their voice and their vote doesn’t matter.”

Both Jenkins and Williams said they made it a point to educate themselves on each candidate before voting Tuesday.

“I tried to keep up with everything,” Williams said. “I think it’s important you get educated before you go to the polls so you know who you’re voting for.”