Many issues in election will affect young voters

By By Liz Carlston

By Liz Carlston

Election Day is fewer than two weeks away and Utah is one of several early-voting states. Students and citizens across the state can begin casting their ballots in the presidential race as well as making their opinions count in state and civic propositions and selection of representatives.

A February Rock the Vote poll found that more than half of young adults ages 18 to 29 said the top issue of concern is the economy and job creation, followed closely by health care and education costs.

Today’s young adults are having a hard time making ends meet in a difficult economy. There are 44 million 18-to 29-year-olds eligible to vote in the United States, one-fifth of the electorate. Today’s 18- to 29-year-olds are part of the Millennial Generation, the biggest generation since the baby boomers, according to

Debt and living from paycheck to paycheck is a fact of life for today’s young adults. During the past decade, college, health insurance and housing costs have soared. About two-thirds of college students graduate with debt, with the average graduate owing $20,000.

The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute found that the primary concerns of 18- to 30-year-olds vary. When asked whether they agreed with certain statements, 82 percent reported they are concerned with college affordability, 68 percent said global warming is a real and growing threat, and 65 percent said the U.S. government should provide universal health care.

“Young voters are a potential powerhouse in the 2008 elections,” said Kat Barr, research director for Rock the Vote. “This poll is yet another indicator that candidates who want to win in 2008 must court this large and increasingly active group of voters.”

To make voting easier for students this year, the Associated Students of the University of Utah Government Relations Board has coordinated early voting at the U with booths set up in the Union. As it’s a presidential election year, students are encouraged to vote now more than ever. Programs and policies that are passed in this election will impact life on a day-to-day basis.

A lot of people say the vote of an individual person doesn’t count and won’t make any difference in the election. But, as they say in basketball, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. If you don’t vote at all, your vote really is worth nothing.

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Liz Carlston