SALT LAKE COUNTY – The Utah elections office is expecting a record turnout for this year’s general election. For some voters, it’s their first time casting a ballot.
Census numbers show an estimated 17 million young adults will be newly eligible to vote since the last presidential election. For some it’s a nervous experience … others one they’ve been waiting for.
“I was counting down,” said Herriman High Senior Madeline Hixson. “I figured out how old I’d be for the next election since I was 14.”
“I think it just makes me feel good that I actually got to pick for myself,” said South Jordan teen Collin Bench.
Like school, these first time voters discovered elections involve a lot of studying. Most were caught off guard at some of the local races and initiatives on the ballot.
“Some of them I didn’t even know because I’d never seen their campaigning,” said new voter Ben Zander. “Others I really knew them because they advertised a lot.”
Zander says his family is heavy into politics, so he had some help getting involved. Non partisan research group Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) shows new eligible voters (aged 18-21) make up 7.5% of the eligible voting population in 2012. Historically young voters skip the polls, feeling the candidates are out of touch with their generation. But Utah teens are taking the vote seriously.
“I’ve got my grandparents to worry about, They use Medicare,” said Hixson. “I worry about my parents and their future with Medicare. And my parents worry how my future is going to be.”
“I just came from school and everyone was like, either already doing it or already there,” said Bench. “I think with all that’s been happening with everything, They feel like this one is the better one to vote for.”