Youth voters, traditionally ignored by
national politicians, are expected to turn out in greater numbers
this year. Efforts such as MTV’s Rock the Vote, producer P.
Diddy’s “Vote or Die” campaign and the steady rockin’
Vote for Change Tour are aggressively targeting young voters, many
of whom are participating in their first presidential election.

Beth Dykstra

But while students have noticed the stepped-up efforts to
influence the youth vote by celebrities, they also say they have
been neglected by the candidates themselves.

“I don’t feel I’ve been targeted by either one
of them,” Engineering sophomore Stephanie Fraley said.

Fraley mentioned how Bill Clinton courted young voters in 1992
with appearances on MTV and the Arsenio Hall Show.

Fraley said President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry
could have spent less time bickering and more time addressing the
issues important to young Americans.

Nursing sophomore Katie Darnell echoed Fraley’s words.

“Neither of them is directly talking to the youth,”
she said.

Students disagree on which candidate has done a better job of
reaching out to college-age voters and say each candidate has his
strengths.

“I think Kerry’s a better speaker, but Bush is more
to the people,” Darnell said.

But LSA junior Trevor Verrot said, “Kerry has tried to
reach out to young voters more than Bush has.”

Many of the issues important to students are the same ones the
general population cares about.

“The big general issues are important to me —
education, the war in Iraq, the fear of a draft,” Verrot
said. “I also like to think beyond just myself — the
economy and social welfare programs.”

Darnell said health care issues such as prescription drugs and
Social Security are important to her.

But students also have slightly different priorities when voting
than everyone else.

“Because a lot of people my age are in Iraq, that was a
big issue for me,” Fraley said.

A Pew Research Center poll reports that a greater number of
young people are giving “quite a bit of thought” to
this election than in 2000. Students underscored the importance of
youth getting to the polls.

The winner of the presidential election affects the young
generation’s jobs and futures, especially with the growing burden
of caring for an aging population, Darnell said.

“If one does not participate early, you end up with a
gerontocracy — a country dominated by older people,”
Verrot said.

With a neck-and-neck race, the youth vote could be pivotal on
Tuesday.

“With the polls being as close as they are, what’s
going to decide the election is voter turnout in specific
demographics,” Verrot said.

“We want to shape how the nation will be when we
graduate,” Fraley said.

“I think every vote counts,” she added.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Bush proposes to increase the maximum size of Pell
grants, increase student loan limits and allocate more money to
community colleges.

Kerry‘s plan includes a $4,000 tax credit for families
with children in college and $10 billion in fiscal relief for
states to keep tuition down, including $347 million for the state
of Michigan. Kerry also proposes a national service program that
would give full tuition for four years at a public university to
students who commit to two years of full-time national service.

TAXES

Bush says he would simplify the tax code and wants to
make permanent the tax cuts he enacted in the last three years.

Kerry said he would repeal tax cuts on Americans who earn
more than $200,000 each year. He said he would maintain tax cuts on
lower- and middle-income Americans and has opposed two of
Bush’s largest proposals to cut taxes.

GAY MARRIAGE

Bush opposes gay marriage, but recently said he supports
allowing states to legalize civil unions for gays. He supported the
Federal Marriage Amendment, a constitutional amendment that would
have defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Kerry opposes gay marriage, but supports civil unions and
opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Bush advocates a system that would change the current
system by adding personal investment accounts, which would allow
young people to invest a portion of their Social Security payment.
He has pledged that he will not reduce benefits for seniors or
increase the Social Security tax.

Kerry said he believes economic recovery will help the
Social Security trust fund and is against the privatization of
Social Security. He has also said he will not reduce benefits or
increase taxes on Social Security.

REPRODUCTIVE ISSUES

Bush passed the law that made it a separate crime to harm
an unborn fetus. He does not support partial birth abortions and
has blocked funding to overseas programs that support abortion.

Kerry opposed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban and a law
that made it a separate crime to harm an unborn fetus in violent
acts. Even though he says he is personally against abortion, he
says it would be wrong to impose his beliefs on others by
legislating them. Kerry supports abortion laws as they stand under
Roe v. Wade. Kerry is also in favor of embryonic stem cell
research.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

Bush has supported drilling in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge. He also approved increasing funding to develop
hydrogen-powered fuel, an alternative to petroleum. Bush is the
first president to receive a failing grade for his environmental
policies from the Coalition of Conservation Voters.

Kerry’s plan calls for decreased dependence on foreign
oil and he has supported legislation in the Senate to implement a
gradual decrease. Kerry is an advocate of the Kyoto agreement and
also wants to focus on fuel-efficient energy alternatives.

JOBS

Bush says his tax cuts are creating jobs and will
continue to do so. He also proposes to spend $500 million on job
training and education at community colleges.

Kerry plans to raise the minimum wage to $7 per hour by
2007, cut corporate tax rates to encourage companies to manufacture
in the United States and offer several tax credits for companies
that create jobs. He also proposes to eliminate a tax incentive for
American companies that outsource jobs.

FOREIGN POLICY

Bush endorsed a November conference on Iraq with Middle
Eastern and European leaders that could convince those nations to
help train Iraqi security forces or secure Iraqi borders. He says
he is committed to six-party talks with North Korea, which claims
to have several nuclear weapons, and will address the question of
Iran’s nuclear program in the U.N. Security Council.

Kerry said he would expand the international coalition in
Iraq by convening a conference with Mideast and European leaders.
He also said he would join international efforts to discourage
Iranian nuclear ambitions and engage in bilateral talks with North
Korea.

Compiled by

Donn M. Fresard

Illustrations by

Sam Butler

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