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First-time voters face difficult decisions

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

With our country at war, a slew of boiling-point issues being debated and an over-the-top push for voter registration, the presidential election is fueling a boom of first-time voters.

While the war in Iraq is sure to be on everyone’s minds when they step into the voting booth on Nov. 2, there are plenty of other things to consider before marking the ballot.

Here’s what is weighing heavily with a few of Spokane’s first-time voters:

“Other than Iraq, I’m concerned about education funding, women’s privacy rights and gay marriage,” said Katrina Strulleof, 20.

Jeff Strahand, 21, is watching the health care debate.

“I’m not as concerned about the war because I think both candidates have the same position, they just won’t say it. It’s going to suck either way, so I’m more concerned about domestic stuff.”

Andrew Grat, 21, agreed.

“I think the whole (health care) system is going down the hole, and it needs to be federal-

ized,” he said.

Abbie Uke-

stad, Stephanie Bowerman and Kelsey Brubaker, all 18, agreed that the most important issue to them is the candidates’ moral stance, though they disagree on who they’re going to vote for.

“Honesty with the candidates matters most, and how they’re going to integrate their values into their politics,” Ukestad said, speaking for the group.

They argued over the benefits and risks of switching leadership during wartime.

For Garrett Whittaker, 18, that issue is clear-cut.

“It’s important to keep Bush in office. I don’t think Kerry would do well in times of war,” he said.

John Thompson, 19, is voting in the opposite direction.

“I’m disgusted about the whole thing. Bush takes us into this war and divides the country when it’s not necessary,” Thompson said. “It’s his own personal thing. Then he made the mistake about weapons of mass destruction and didn’t own up to it. I’m usually conservative, but he kind of angered me.”

Nineteen-year-old Nick Gerl agreed.

“I don’t like the way the country has been run. I’d like to get a president that can actually talk right,” Gerl said. “Plus, I don’t want to be drafted.”

Rob Ohlstrom, 18, is hoping for a balanced solution.

“The foreign policy needs to be balanced between imminent threat to the U.S. and potential inter-

national allies,” he said.

Emily Koren, 18, is most concerned about gay marriage, “although (the candidates) are not talking much about it,” she said.

Rob Reinhardt, 18, believes this is the most crucial election his generation will help decide, but he admits he doesn’t know who he’s going to vote for yet.

“The war in Iraq is kind of lame, but I don’t really like either candidate.”

The most important issue, said Emma Mincks, is that young people vote, regardless of who they vote for.

“Everyone should vote,” Mincks said. “If not, then the ones who get elected won’t be representative of everyone, except for a select few.”


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