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Presidential race excites young voters

Pike Liberal Arts student Haley Hixon and Troy University student April Jackson have a whole lot more in common than may meet the eye.

Hixon is a 17-year old high school senior, who will just barely make the voter registration deadline. Jackson, on the other hand, is a college student from Brewton, who is enlisted in the Army ROTC program.

Hixon will vote for John McCain, and Jackson will cast her vote for Barack Obama — but both agree the candidates’ views on the economy are key to their decisions.

In a time of financial crisis across the nation, the economic views of presidential candidates are something not just on the minds of Hixon and Jackson but of many young voters in Pike County.

“This age group, along with everybody else, is really focused on this financial crisis because a lot of students are starting to graduate and look for jobs,” said Kristen Carter, president of Troy University’s College Republicans. “Right now, a lot of students have help from their parents, but soon, it’s not going to be only partially their responsibility but something they have to straight forward deal with.”

College Democrats President Jeremy Cline said their party alike thinks the economy is at the forefront of young voter’s minds, and it is one of the major issues they push in the party’s campaign.

No matter which party young voters are choosing for office, this presidential race is something many said has become a hot topic among daily conversation.

“This is important to teenagers, especially in our class since we will be able to vote,” said JT Coston, a senior at Pike Liberal Arts School. “It is going to affect us a lot because we’ll start going into college.”

Coston said it’s not uncommon for he and his peers to have political conversations, and his classmate Hixon agreed.

“We have a government class, and we talk about it in there, but sometimes it just randomly comes up,” Hixon said.

Director of the Pike County Board of Registrars Evelyn Morgan said she’s not sure exactly how many new registered voters are young, but, she said this year she has seen a lot more youth come into register than she has in year’s past.

And, at Troy University, Student Government Association has worked to make voter registration even easier for students.

SGA Clerk Judson Vaughan said the university had a good turnout Tuesday for the school’s mock presidential race and voter registration drive.

“We’re trying to get our generation informed of the issues these candidates have,” Vaughan said. “It’s a good way to let the students decide who Troy University thinks would be a good president.”

Around 345 students came out to vote for their candidate of choice, and John McCain won the student votes by 58 percent.

Vaughan said the university is working to increase voter participation in the younger generation.

“Our age group isn’t famous for a large percent of the voter participation, but I think both parties are trying to change that,” Vaughan said.

SGA President Tim Parr said the event was sponsored in conjunction with College Republicans and Democrats, but they also had independent candidates on the ballot.

Independent candidates only received seven votes in total, with three for Bobb Barr and four for Ralph Nader.

Elizabeth Mothershead, of Coden, was one student who chose an independent candidate.

“The economy is just going down hill,” Mothershead said. “I’m voting independent. I don’t like either one of the candidates, and if I vote for either one, I can’t complain about it.”

Other issues young voters said were important were abortion, health care and international affairs.

“There’s a bunch of major issues we need to be interested in and worried about,” Hixon said. “We need to make a difference and want to make a difference.”