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Youth Vote in Athens: Some Take Voting Seriously, Others Not So Much

We talk with a few 20-somethings, and younger, about the upcoming elections.

 

By Andrea Feminella

Like many other election years, this year there is currently a push for voting registration drives before the deadline to register on Oct. 8. However, for many young adults, there may be a difference between registering to vote and actually getting involved with the issues.   

Registering to vote is the easy part for young people juggling, work, school and life.

“It’s an American right,” said Keith Guest, the 27-year-old manager of a local Athens sports store.

“It’s important for me to have a voice and be able to vote for the candidates whose issues I believe in,” said Zoe Ray, 26, a counseling psychology student at UGA.

Despite their gung-ho attitude about voting, neither Guest nor Ray appears to have thought deeply about issues or candidates. Guest’s view is that the outcome of this election would “probably not” affect him. And although Ray believes the results would affect her, she “hasn’t really thought about” why, she says.

Accounting student Joelle Celestin, 21, feels that registering to vote is the first step toward becoming politically engaged. 

 “It was really easy,” said Celestin. “I was at the library getting a library card, and they asked me if I wanted to, and I said yes. So they just registered me.”

Although Celestin confessed that she didn’t know who she was going to vote for and said she hasn’t been politically active in the past, she vowed to turn over a new leaf.

“This year I’m trying,” she said. “It’s going to be my first time voting.”

Other young adults say that their personal stake in this election is too large to ignore.

 “I know that there’s a lot going on with the Pell Grant and the money coming from the government to the people (in Athens),” said Brooke Carson, a 21-year-old biology student at UGA. 

 “I’m trying to finish school. I’m trying to make it,” she said. “I need help.”

The idea that voting matters not just for individuals, but also for the country as a whole, is widely understood. UGA student Ryota Furuabu, 27, a linguistics major from Japan, takes the election seriously.

 “I think this country is coming to a turning point now,” said Furuabu. “So I think that the decision that people make here becomes really important.”

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