Election 2012 calls young first-time voters

By Mahdiyah Al-askari
YO:Durham Intern
the Durham VOICE


American elections are here again, and joining them in Durham is another group of new young voters.

Nineteen-year-old Carina Barboza, a student at Durham Technical Community College, says she is energized about voting for the first time.

Although currently too young to vote, 17-year-old Hillside New Tech senior Maya Finoh pushes older teens to do so. According to the Durham County Current Elections website, there are seven early voting locations including several libraries and locations at Duke University and NCCU. (Staff photo by Mahdiyah Al-askari)

“I am very excited because this is my first time, and I feel like I am making more of a change because I’m voting for a president,” she said.

The general election early voting period started Oct. 18 and runs until Saturday, Nov. 3. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. The early voting period has been important to some local teenagers and finds them getting involved in the process.

City of Medicine Academy senior Edgelyn Quanon said election season is an important time of year.

“You have to watch everything that candidates say,” she said. “You have to make sure that they aren’t lying.”

Hillside New Tech senior Maya Finoh is not old enough to vote this year, but has been pushing people old enough to vote to register and do so.

“The first step is to go to a local organization like the Durham County Board of Elections and talk to them,” said Finoh. “You can even download a voter registration form online.”

According to ncvoterinfo.org, regardless whether a person votes early or on Election Day, they must be registered.

During the early voting period, voters can register and vote the same day with proof of residency.

Danita Johnson is public relations chair for the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, a local political-action organization.

She has been paying close attention to politics for years.

“It is very important to be involved,” Johnson said.  “I have been voting for 30 plus years.”

Johnson believes that voting is not a privilege but a responsibility of young voters.

“People fought hard to vote, there were times when blacks couldn’t even vote and people lost lives over this,” she said.

When voting, voters must pay close attention to which candidate they are voting for, what party they represent and what plans they have for the nation.

Researching candidates and campaigns can help a first-time voter, or any voter, to make their choice.

“Instead of getting your opinion from social media or from your family, do your own research,” said Barboza.

“Each candidate has their own website. Don’t listen to all the posts on Twitter, Facebook or Google+,” she said.

Finoh believes that first-time voters should recognize that there are other political parties that they can support besides the two major ones.

“Before you register make sure you know what party you are standing for because Republicans and Democrats aren’t the only parties,” said Finoh. “Find your party and take a stance.”

Presidential as well as other candidates are hitting significant topics this year that require American voter attention. Medicare, tax cuts and the national deficit are just a few topics being discussed on the campaign trail.

Other topics important to young voters include education and jobs.

“I advise that everyone who can vote should vote,” says Quanon. “Your livelihood, your education and your protection is at stake, so vote for who you believe will help you.”

Though this election may be the first that many voters participate in, it probably will not be the last.

“Voting as a young person is very important,” said Finoh. “When we grow up we become the people.”

“We are the voice and our voices should be heard.”