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Parent registers elusive young voters in Federal Way
Among the most exciting things for many teenagers turning 18 is earning the right to vote.
Monica Bolden, a parent and volunteer, is helping eligible high school students register to vote before the Oct. 4 deadline by visiting Federal Way high schools and encouraging students to exercise their newfound right. Teenagers who will turn 18 on or before Nov. 4 are eligible to vote this year.
"It's very important for our youth to be a part of this process," Bolden said. "No matter how a person votes, every person is entitled to their voice."
Most of the students who are old enough are eager to register, Bolden said. At Federal Way High School on Monday, Bolden helped nine new voters sign up during lunch time.
"It's important. It's my future," said Andre Barrington, a Federal Way senior who signed up to vote on Monday.
Barrington said he hasn't yet decided how he will vote in the presidential election.
"I'll probably talk to my parents and see what they think and I'll probably have to watch the news a lot more," he said.
Most Federal Way students said they get information about the candidates from the television news, their parents and civics classes at school. Principal Lisa Griebel noted that civics teachers aim to help students compare each candidate on various issues.
Many of the students who registered on Monday hadn't yet decided on which candidate they would vote for. A few, like seniors Pablo Queredo and Sam Conklin, already have strong opinions about the presidential candidates.
Queredo said he will vote for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain.
"I just want to vote for Obama because this country does need change and I don't think McCain is the right person for it," he said.
Queredo said he gathers his information about candidates from cable news outlets CNN and MSNBC. He avoids FOX News because of the station's reputation for leaning conservative, he said.
While many young voters support Obama, Conklin said he is a conservative and plans to vote for McCain. He has found that he disagrees with most people his age, except for a group of other young conservatives at his church.
"A lot of young kids kind of don't understand," he said.
Conklin gets most of his information about candidates from Time, Newsweek and The Economist magazines. He said he would like to see more young people educate themselves about the candidates and the issues.
"A lot of the world just votes on what they see," he said.
Conklin said he likes McCain because he is unlikely to raise taxes and he is pro-life. Conklin also supports McCain's energy and off-shore drilling plans and his immigration policies.
"Also, the Iraq War," Conklin said. "I believe the surge is working and a lot of people don't."
The deadline to register to vote in the November elections is Oct. 4. Voter registration forms are available at City Hall, public libraries, public schools, King County Elections offices and King County Community Service Centers. Forms are also available online at www.kingcounty.gov/elections/registration.aspx.