Election energizes youth voting block

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(Host) Most experts agree that the youth vote is up for grabs in this election year. It’s believed that young voters are feeling increasingly disenfranchised and cynical toward government.

VPR’s Nina Keck went to Dartmouth College to speak with young voters who said that foreign policy and Iraq would be big issues at the ballot box.

(Heintz) “Hey Michaelson, you vote yet, son? Anyone need a ride a ride to the polls?”

(Keck) Paul Heintz is president of the Young Democrats at Dartmouth College. He spent Tuesday in a rented van shuttling students to and from the polls. En route he said that while young people have a reputation for being politically apathetic, this election may change that.

(Heintz) “I have found that people who may have not been interested in the past are realizing how important it is. And how things like the war in Iraq and the economy are actually starting to really impact them on a personal level. One second – anyone need a ride to the polls?! Good job.”

(Keck) One of Heintz’s passengers, sophomore Adam Michaelson, says Howard Dean did more than any other candidate to rally young New Hampshire voters.

(Michaelson) “He really got the ball rolling on having house parties and having people work with their social networks. To actually include, whether it’s dinner or drinking or Parcheesi or Twister. Getting people’s friends involved in the political process. Talking about Howard Dean specifically but, talking about the race itself generally.”

(Keck) At Dartmouth’s Collis Student Center, the tables were filled. Twenty-year-old Allette Vayda says that while this election is vitally important, she’s a bit tired of the Democratic candidates promising what may be impossible to deliver.

(Vayda) “A lot of these candidates keep claiming that they’re going to change the way America’s run. It’d be fantastic if they could, but it’s putting a lot of trust in a president that we’re not really sure is going to happen.”

(Keck) However they voted, these students say they’ve woken up politically – many for the first time – and it’s not likely they’ll go back to sleep.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Hanover New Hampshire.

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