Teens await first vote

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By Autumn Sandlin

This is a very big year for politics. In November, America will elect, or re-elect, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney as president. The election in November offers many exciting options, especially the opportunity for many 18-year-olds to vote for the first time. 

“I’m very excited. It makes me feel grown,” Elizabethtown High School senior Mariah Dennison said.

Youth voting has been increasing in recent elections with an estimated 22 million voters younger than 30 casting a ballot in the 2008 presidential election, according to Census data. 

With first-time voters, many things are new, including picking what party you will register with and making a decision on who to vote for in the first place.

“I’m registering as a Democrat,” Elizabethtown High School senior Kacey Perkins said. “It’s the same party my parents are registered for but it’s also partly my own decision.”

While Perkins was sure what party she was registering to, Dennison was not so sure.

“I really don’t know," she said. "I don’t know if it’ll be the same as my parents or not.”

Another important thing during the presidential election is discovering what each candidate truly stands for. While neither Dennison nor Perkins are keeping up with the race right now, they both plan to when it gets closer to general election time.

Elizabethtown High School senior Kathryn Thomas has a differing opinion, though. While she believes it’s important to vote, she has little free time to become informed on any of the issues of candidates.

“I don’t think you should vote if you don’t know anything about the candidates,” she said. 

It seems others share her opinion. Though improved, voter turn out of those 18 to 29 years old was 51 percent in 2008.

To increase participation, organizations such as Rock the Vote have been recruiting celebrities to encourage young people to vote and make a difference.

Autumn Sandlin is a 2012 graduate of Elizabethtown High School.