'Historic' Election Attracts Young Voters

Joel Yamashiro
Joel Yamashiro
Christy Wagner
Christy Wagner

MANOA (KHNL) -- This year's presidential election has captured the imagination of young people like no other in recent memory, and has motivating them to get involved in the political process.

Almost 75 percent of young people say they are registered to vote, and of the remaining, 77 percent say they plan to register before the 2008 election, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll.

Many first time voters at the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus say they're excited about taking part in a "historic" election.

Professor Ira Rohter's upper division political science class tackles Hawaii politics. His students keep a close eye on the presidential race this Super Tuesday, especially the two leading democratic candidates.

"We're going to be a part of history," said Joel Yamashiro, a 20-year-old economics student. "If we vote, we're going to be a part of this cycle that determined the first African American or the first female president of the United States. It's kind of exciting to vote right now."

Yamashiro has waited four long years for a chance to vote.

"The last time there was a presidential election, I wanted to try to help the Democratic Party by voting, but then I was too young back then," he said.

Christy Wagner is also looking forward to taking part in our political process. The 19-year-old from the Big Island supports Senator Barak Obama.

"I think Obama really appeals to young people because he's sort of an agent for change," she said. "And I think that sort of makes young people really want to come out and, you know, support that, support change in our government, support progression."

Jim Brewer is also taking this class. The 68-year-old who lives in Makiki supports the Green Party, saying big business has taken over the Democratic and Republican parties.

"When I was a kid, businessmen and business people basically had an obligation to the community," he said. "They were small businesses. They were part of the community; they were part of the culture."

Yamashiro says he's also ready for something different, a change from what he's seen so far.

"We have all these problems facing our future already that it's telling us as kids and young adults that now is the time for us to take hold of our own futures and decide our own path," he said.

Forging ahead, to pave their own way and to select the next president.

Nationwide, polls show a tremendous amount of interest in this election among young people. So, analysts predict a record turnout among voters 18 to 29.