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Merrimack Valley

November 5, 2012

College debt, jobs, taxes on young voters' minds

It’s been something that Andover High School senior David Johnian has been looking forward to for a long time. Having recently turned 18, Johnian will get a chance to influence the direction of his country today.

Johnian and many of his peers will be voting in their first election — a right that Johnian knows should not be taken for granted.

“Knowing that so many people died for this country so that we could have the right to vote and that people all around the world would do anything for that right to vote, makes me feel extremely fortunate,” Johnian said.

But, not every young voter is as enthusiastic as Johnian.

A poll by the Harvard University Institute of Politics last month said only 48 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 are definitely voting, far below the 63 percent who were definitely voting at this time in 2008.

“I think there was a level of novelty into then Senator Obama’s campaign that does not exist in this campaign,” said Andover High social studies teacher Ruth Masters. “In 2008, it was very grassroots and was very intensely driven on college campuses and it’s not now for a lot of reasons. I think that it hasn’t percolated from the bottom up and if it’s not going to percolate from the bottom up, kids aren’t going to get involved. They’re not interested from the top down.”

In Andover High’s Democracy and Media Literacy classes, teachers informed students about the key issues which will be coming up in the election. The first step however is making sure students go out and vote.

“When my kids turn 18, the first thing I say after happy birthday is to ask them if they’ve registered to vote yet,” said Masters. “I don’t care who they vote for as long as they vote.”

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