CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee — When it comes to voting in this year's election, Maci Bookout has gotten over the biggest hump: she's registered. But the 21-year-old star of MTV's "Teen Mom" is still working on getting boyfriend Kyle to sign on the dotted line.
So, an MTV News crew tagged along with her recently as she went down to her local public library to pick up a voter registration form for him. Getting the piece of paper in Kyle's hands was easy, but the hard part came when the couple had to figure out who they were going to vote for on November 6.
"We've got to figure that out," she told Kyle. "I don't know ... I have no idea, we have to pay attention." The good news, she told him, is all he has to do is fill out the form and turn it in to make sure his vote counts. "If the people that are voting are our parents and our grandparents then they're only voting for people that are going to do good things for them."
The couple recently gathered in the living room of the three-bedroom suburban Chattanooga, Tennessee, home Maci shares with her two roommates and her son, Bentley, to talk politics and discuss their concerns about finances and how to figure out who will get their vote in this year's election.
Turning to her friend Raj, who has dreams of going to graduate school to study aeronautical engineering, Maci said it makes her sad that he has to base his decision on pursuing a higher degree on whether or not he'll be able to pay back all his student loans when he graduates.
"I don't feel like people should have to make a decision like that based on being in debt," said Maci, who is studying journalism at nearby Chattanooga State Community College. Soon, the talk turned to taxes and how much of a bite is taken out of Kyle's paycheck and Maci's child support checks, as well as the friends' anger over our troops' continued deployment in the Middle East.
"I don't want them to take advantage of our military," she said as Bentley played dirt bike video games on her iPhone while seated on the couch between her and Kyle. "We should probably make sure we think about them when we're voting. I don't agree with abortion, but at the same time I don't know if I could take a woman's right away. Just because I don't agree with it doesn't mean I don't agree that it should be a woman's decision."
Maci didn't divulge who she plans to vote for in November, acknowledging that neither President Obama nor Republican challenger Mitt Romney is likely to have all the answers she's looking for. For her, though, in the first presidential election she's been eligible to vote in, finding a candidate who has the most in common with her views is the goal.
It is exactly these kinds of conversations that MTV's Power of 12 is hoping to spark as we get closer to the election in the hope that the 45 million young voters out there will take to heart their ability to make a difference.
Whether your issue is taxes, student loan repayment, the national deficit or renewable energy, you can't get into the game if you don't vote. And you can't vote if you're not registered.
"If all of us are going through the same things, the only way to make it fair is to go and vote," said Maci as she watched Kyle fill out his form and pop it in the mailbox while Bentley rode his beloved mini BMX bike in the driveway.