Determination lies in the hands of the youth

MGSH first-time voters share reactions to 1st election

By Sage Larson

MGSH Staff Intern

For most Americans, this past election was just about choosing a candidate or voting on an issue, while for 18-year-olds, it held an opportunity for them to become a contributing member of the country for the first time.

Abby Bunnell and Alyssa Nord, both seniors at Maple Grove Senior High, seized this opportunity on Nov. 6 during the 2012 General Election. Before the election, they educated themselves on different aspects of the election.

“I watched the debates and in Economics class, we talked about the presidents during our current events discussion,” Bunnell said.

Nord added, “In Government class, we did some research on the presidential candidates and learned where they stand on different issues.”

On Nov. 6, the seniors hit the booths and were surprised at what they saw. Once Nord got her ballot, she observed, “There was a lot on there and I didn’t know what half of it was.”

Bunnell said, “I was surprised at the size and how many things there were to vote for.”

Youth turnout has more impact on the election than one would think. In this year’s election, the youth (18- to 29-year-olds) made up 19 percent of the voter turnout, according to CIRCLE (The Center For Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement).

Looking at the 19 percent in more depth, 50 percent of the entire youth population turned out at the election, resulting in Obama receiving 60 percent of the youth vote while Romney received 36 percent.

The 2012 National Exit Poll’s data has reflected back that in four of the biggest determining states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania — the majority voted democratic, due to the younger generation. In fact, if Romney would have received half the youth vote, he would have gotten the 80 electoral votes those states held, and would of won the election.

What attracts teenagers to the booths?

Nord believes that “the election itself brings the teen voters out” while Bunnell thinks that “the social issues like the amendments draw in teen voters because they have stronger opinions on it.”

The youth population can determine an election, which makes it even more important that they do educate themselves on the candidates.

The next presidential election, the young women won’t be in high school where the teachers can help inform them on the candidates. Both said they plan on either watching the debates or doing some research on their own time in four years.

“Voting for the first time was wonderful because I felt like a part of the country by getting to put in my say,” Nord said.

“Voting for the first time was great because I felt old,” Bunnell added.