CONCORD, New Hampshire — On a blue-sky, unseasonably not frigid morning in the Granite State, young voters came out early to the Green Street Community Center in the shadow of the gold-domed state Capitol to cast their ballots in the first-in-the-nation Republican primary on Tuesday (January 10).
MTV's Power of 12 caught up with them and found out what issues were on the minds and why they were motivated to hit the polls early.
Andrew Judd, 19, was feeling good about his first voting experience, confident that his ballot could make a difference in the outcome. "I normally would say I don't have a chance at affecting anything, but the results in Iowa state that seven votes could make a difference," he said, referring to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's eight-vote margin over former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in last week's Iowa caucus. "If I'm one of those seven, then I'm making a big difference."
Judd said he definitely kept an eye on the ever-fluctuating polls in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's vote, watching as leading candidate Romney saw his 40-plus percent margin slip into the low 30s as the numbers for Congressman Ron Paul and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman crept up. But even if his candidate of choice doesn't make the cut, Judd said he will still come out to vote again in the general election.
Though she was also excited about her first time voting, Emily Flanders, 18, was a bit disappointed that some of her friends sat the primary out. "I think that they still think that they can complain about the government, but they don't have the right to if they're not going to vote," she said.
It wasn't the same story for Amelia Dickinson, 18, one of several politically active students from nearby St. Paul's School, an Episcopal boarding school, who stepped into a voting booth in the center's gym and checked a box behind a red, white and blue curtain. As she did, one of her teachers, Grant Edwards, looked on with pride as he watched his charge take the lessons she had learned in his class and put them to work.
"I was really looking forward to it [voting]," said Dickinson, who spent last semester studying the various campaigns for a new-media and culture class and is currently examining the candidates' views in a practical politics course. "It was a nice way to go about voting for the first time with all the information." Rather than letting the polls affect her vote, Dickinson said she focused on watching the various debates and studying the candidates' beliefs, ultimately deciding that her values lined up with Santorum's as she tried not to get distracted or swayed by Romney's momentum in pre-primary polls.
"I hope people actually look into what they're saying," she said, also promising that she would be back in the general election regardless of Tuesday's outcome.
Yet another first-timer in Edwards' class, 19-year-old senior David J. Chester, said he absolutely thinks the nation's 45 million young voters can help impact the 2012 election. "But I think the young vote's got to get out and be more informed. You've got to know the policies the candidates are running ... you've got to take time and research what it is you like about the certain candidates," he said.
Taking advantage of the state's open primary system, Chester cast his ballot for Barack Obama. "Hopefully, if you get a large support base for the Democratic Party and Obama, it will hopefully start a snowball effect and more people will hop on the bandwagon when they see how many people came out and still voted for Obama even though the focus is on the Republican candidates," he said.