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Officials to young men: Get involved

WESSON – Delegates to this year’s American Legion Boys Statereceived a lesson in following the Golden Rule on Tuesday from twoof Mississippi’s top leaders.

Secretary of State Eric Clark urged students to get involved intheir communities and to maintain an “attitude of servitude.” Indoing so, he said students should treat others the way they wouldlike to be treated.

“It works exactly the same way in public service,” Clark said,citing examples from his office.

Clark said some calls to his office do not fall under thesecretary of state’s duties. However, he stressed that officeemployees strive to be “user friendly” in pointing callers in theright direction.

“We have to be part of the solutions to people’s problems,”Clark said. “We can’t be part of the problem.”

The Golden Rule also came up during Gov. Haley Barbour’s talkabout leadership later Tuesday. He said leaders can be effectivewithout tearing others down in pursuit of their goals.

“The Golden Rule can be practiced, and you can be an enormouslyeffective leader,” Barbour said.

Other leadership qualities Barbour mentioned included hard work,standing up for what’s right, telling the truth and beingtrustworthy, taking the blame when things go wrong and sharing thecredit when things go right. He said politics and many otherendeavors are “team sports.”

“There are very few things in life where teamwork is notessential, Barbour said.

One way people can get involved is through elections, Clarksaid.

“Every year, we have some kind of opportunity to be involved inelections,” said Clark, mentioning this year’s municipal contestsand other races in upcoming years.

Clark lamented apathy among voters in the form of low turnoutfor elections. Until the 2004 presidential election, when there wasa slight increase, Clark said there has been a downward trend invoting from the 1930s to 2000.

“That trend is particularly down among young adults,” Clarksaid.

Clark hailed the national Help America Vote Act which passedfollowing the 2000 presidential election.

Pending funding, Clark said the act will give $34 million overthree years to Mississippi to address election issues. Among thoseis the creation of a computer link between circuit clerks’ officesto clean up voter rolls and remove dead folks and those in jailwho’ve lost the right to vote.

“If you clean up the voter rolls, it is the most important thingyou can do to correct voter fraud,” Clark said.

Other aspects of the act include new voting machines in thestate, making all precincts handicap accessible and making iteasier for military personnel and their families to vote viaabsentee ballot.