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First-time voters make a difference

Mike MacCue walks away from an electronic voting machine after exercising his right to vote for the first time Tuesday afternoon at Strasburg High School. Rich Cooley/Daily

First time voter Sam Eshelman, 19, casts his ballot at Warren County High School on Tuesday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily

Young adults say 2012 election will have significant impact on future

By Kim Walter

Northern Shenandoah Valley first time voters told the Daily on Tuesday that they had done their homework before entering the voting booth to cast their ballot on Tuesday.

"My mom told me what to expect, and not to worry, but it was kind of nerve-racking actually waiting in line, getting closer and closer to casting my vote," said Siaura Saville, 19, of Strasburg. Saville is a sophomore at Shenandoah University, and plays volleyball for the school while also majoring in kinesiology. She came home on Tuesday afternoon to exercise her right to vote for the very first time.

"I watched all the presidential debates, and in my classes there was a lot of discussion on why we should vote, what issues to pay attention to, and if you should vote if you don't really have a preference," she said. "Personally, I feel strongly about my beliefs, so I didn't have any outside influences when it came to my decision."

Saville knew from the beginning that she would vote, but admitted that a good amount of her friends didn't seem to have the same passion.

"I've heard a lot of them say they aren't voting. They don't know enough about the issues, or they just don't like either of the candidates," she said. "That's fine with me, as long as they don't complain."

As she and her family have lived in Strasburg her whole life, Saville noted that the local elections were just as important to her.

"These are the people and decisions that will directly effect us," she said. "But I'll always vote in big elections and local ones ... it doesn't matter, I'll vote."

The actual process of voting wasn't complicated at all, Saville said, especially with the electronic touch screen machines.

"I thought that would be the confusing part, but it was just click, click and you're done," she said.

While voters at Strasburg High School were given the choice to vote electronically or by paper, those voting in Warren County at Warren County High School could only use the touch screen method.

Sam Eshelman, 19, of Warren County didn't have a problem with the lack of options.

"I mean, my generation has grown up with touch screens and basically computers in our pockets, so it shouldn't be a problem," he said before walking into the polling location on Tuesday afternoon.

Eshelman, a sophomore at Lord Fairfax Community College, said he hopes to have a career involving history and political science, and admitted he regularly kept up with the political campaigns. He watched all debates - between presidential and vice presidential candidates - and felt they covered most of the country's top issues.

"Obamacare, foreign affairs, debt ... but for me the number one key issue is the economy," he said. When it comes to how he voted, Eshelman said he goes with how he feels, not what others tell him to do.

"My parents have always let me make my own decisions. I'll always be allowed to vote for whoever I want," he said. "My mom is really just excited that I'm voting."

And Eshelman said exercising his right to vote is vital, as one vote can make all the difference.

"This is our future. We aren't just voting for a person, but we're voting for what they decide, what laws and acts they pass ... it all affects us, and not just for the four years the guy's in office," he said. "If you don't vote, it's not like these laws and policies won't affect you."

Two first time voters in Strasburg had an extra reason to consider the future when they voted at Strasburg High School on Tuesday afternoon.

"We've got a boy on the way, and we're worried about his education," said 18-year-old Mike MacCue, motioning toward his girlfriend, Brittany Spiesman, also 18.

"This kind of defines our future," Spiesman said of the election. "We're voting for our child's future now."

MacCue said the election was discussed daily in his government class, and he said he appreciated it as it helped him become well informed.

"Tax cuts, health care, how the candidates handle all these things ... it was good, I learned a lot," he said.

The couple admitted that even though they were confident in their votes, they didn't feel the need to broadcast opinions to others, including family members.

"My family out in Kansas want to vote for the complete opposite people we're voting for ... we just keep our thoughts to ourselves," said Spiesman. "We know who we're voting for, there's no need to argue about it."

MacCue said voting was important for all age groups, even kids too young to cast a vote that counts.

"It's important for them to go with their parents, just to see the process and get an understanding of why something like this is important," he said. "I even had to talk with my friends every day, just to get the point across that every vote matters. If you can vote, then you should."

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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