Will Carter is 18 and says he wants to make a difference.
That’s one reason Carter, a delegate from District 1 of the Georgia Republican Party to the recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland, was invited to speak to students at Bradwell Institute recently. He encouraged them to vote.
John Wood, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party District 1 and BI social studies teacher, thought it would be worthwhile for students to hear from someone close to their age.
Carter, who went to Benedictine, talked to classes Aug. 12 about his experience at the convention, how he became a delegate and the importance of voting. He said he wasn’t there to persuade them to vote for Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, but to motivate students to vote for their candidate.
He said 18- to 30-year-olds make up the largest demographic in the nation and that people fought and died for the right to vote.
“We have a great right that has been defended and fought for,” Carter said. “We can tip the tide in any election. For instance, the state of Georgia is now considered a purple state, meaning it could vote Democrat, it could vote Republican. Even if you can’t vote in this election, looking ahead, what we vote will be who becomes president nine times out of 10. That’s why it’s so important.”
As part of his talk, Carter used CNN’s 2016 Candidate Matchmaker, an online questionnaire that matches people with candidates based on their answers about issues, such as immigration.
Carter also spoke about the different branches of government, current issues, presidential candidates, the electoral college, primaries and the national convention.
When Carter realized he could qualify as a delegate to the RNC at a district convention, he attended the district convention at the Dorchester Civic Center in Midway. There, Carter ran against the nominating committee’s choice, Jeanne Seaver. Carter beat Seaver by 12 votes, he said.
It was a last minute decision.
“I didn’t know I wanted to do it until a week before,” Carter said. “I sent out a letter to all the people who were going, saying ‘vote for me.’ And when I went there, I went row by row, shaking people’s hands and said ‘vote for me.’”
The delegate vote was taken twice because Seaver did not believe she actually lost, Carter said.
His decision to run was “sort of a calling.”
“The reason I say that is because I wanted to change the stereotype of the Republican Party, because many people see it as a bunch of old, white dudes sitting in a room with cigars,” Carter said.
After winning, he went to the state convention, then attended the national.
Carter talked to students about different aspects of the convention, such as votes on the platform and nominee. He described the experience as a lot of fun and said his favorite part was “meeting everyone and seeing how everything is connected in a way.”
Wood said delegates are normally party leaders and people who have contributed to the party.
Wood said, “I think it’s people like him that will drive the leadership of this nation, this state and this region over the next few decades.”
Wood wants kids to have as many experiences as possible listening and interacting with people of different views.
“They have those questions but don’t have the opportunity to ask them. They may not ask a teacher but they’ll ask someone of their own peer age,” Wood said.
When Carter asked how many students will register to vote, not many raised their hand, which shocked him.
“One of the really big things I want to change is the youth, people in my age group ,getting involved,” Carter said. “The more excitement we have as a group, we can tip the scales in an election, and it starts with grassroots, doing stuff like this.”
Carter said he will plans to attend Mercer University to major in law, public policy and psychology. After college, he may attend law school or move back to Savannah and jump into politics. His ultimate goal is to be president of the United States.