Austin High School senior Tommy Olmsted will be voting for the first time ever come Tuesday in an election that will be deciding several big issues.

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Young voices in votes

Published 11:00pm Saturday, November 3, 2012

New, younger voters make their choices

By Matt Peterson and Trey Mewes

Tom Olmsted is about to make a difference. He just turned 18 at the end of September, which means he’s one of the young voters politicians are hoping will come to the polls and vote this election.

“With all the classes I’ve had this year … they’ve really put an emphasis on that it really matters for all of us first-time voters,” Olmsted said. “We need to be informed and know what we’re doing because every vote really counts.”

Olmsted is practicing just that, as he’s still researching the issues he’ll soon vote on in this election. He identifies more with conservative issues, and says the economy is the most important issue in this election, which is why he’s voting for Mitt Romney for president. Romney has plenty of experience in business, which Olmsted thinks is going to be crucial to improve the country’s economic strength.

“The country has definitely been in a slump for a while,” Olmsted said. “There hasn’t really been anything done to turn it around. There’s been a lot said by, not just Democrats but both parties. But there’s just not a lot that’s been done.”

When it comes to state races and the impending voter ID and marriage amendments, Olmsted is less sure on what to vote. He has seen a lot of ads and signs for and against each amendment, but he’s not sure what his position is on either amendment. The same goes for several state and national legislative races, as Olmsted doesn’t just vote the party line.

“I think Amy Klobuchar’s done a great job,” he said.

Regardless, he and many voters agree on one thing: This election needs to end soon, as voter fatigue is rampant throughout the country.

“With all my friends who are able to vote this year too, they’re kinda like, ‘Wow, I just want to get this election over with,’” he said.

Student Senate leader excited to vote Tuesday

Brandon Jorgenson considers himself more of a Republican, but on Tuesday he’ll be filling in the circle next to Barack Obama’s name.

Brandon Jorgenson of Austin will vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday despite being more of a Republican. Jorgenson is the president of Riverland Community College Student Senate.

Jorgenson, 19, loves business, education and pays attention to foreign policy. He hopes for a future in business, so one may think he would vote for the Republican candidate. While he did his research on presidential candidate Mitt Romney and thought about voting for him, the presidential debates quickly changed that as Jorgenson saw indecisiveness in Romney.

“Those really turned me to the side of Obama,” Jorgenson said about the debates.

But Jorgenson isn’t a big Obama supporter, either. He dislikes Obama’s Affordable Care Act and some other policies. However, he sees voting for Obama as “the lesser of two evils.” Romney’s hate ads and attacks toward Obama swung Jorgenson’s opinion, as well. Furthermore, Jorgenson didn’t like Romney’s comments on foreign policy and thought he spent more time bashing Obama’s policies than offering his own ideas.

Jorgenson may have more of an interest in politics than many 19-year-olds, as he is the president of the Riverland Community College Student Senate. Now he has his feet wet with politics and is gaining more interest, as well.

“I just really like the idea of trying to get the notion of government in schools,” Jorgenson said.

He added being on a student senate gives him a strong voice on issues as he has more opportunities to talk to legislators.

It’s too early to tell, but perhaps Jorgenson will follow in one local Republican’s footsteps. And there is certainty: Jorgenson will vote for that candidate, Nathan Neitzell, who is running for District 27B’s seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Jorgenson has a mutual friend with Neitzell who speaks highly of Neitzell’s business success. Jorgenson likes that.

“I kind of envy him because I am going into business,” Jorgenson said.

Jorgenson’s ballot could end up quite divided between parties. He isn’t decided on every local and state race, but he plans to further educate himself about the candidates and their policies. By no means is he leaning Republican on most issues.

“I like both Republican views and Democratic views,” he said.

On two big issues in Minnesota, Jorgenson knows where he stands, as well. He will vote yes to install a new voter ID amendment, even if he goes against the grain of his family’s viewpoints.

“I believe it’s a really good policy, actually,” Jorgenson said. “People who have passed away are still voting somehow.”

On imposing a new marriage amendment, Jorgenson will vote no.

“It doesn’t affect my life,” Jorgenson he said about homosexuals getting married.

By all means, Jorgenson is excited to vote for the first time.

“I’m actually quite excited,” Jorgenson said. “It just is a so interesting. Who knows if I will go into politics?”

23-year-old keeps family tradition alive, leans toward GOP

Ruth Smith, who leans toward Republican policies, will vote for Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

Ruth Smith is sticking to her guns and once again voting Republican. While it’s only the second presidential election in which the 23-year-old will have voted, she knows where she stands: conservative.

“Politics are kind of a big thing in my family,” said Smith, a Riverland Community College student in Austin who voted for John McCain in 2008.

Smiths’ views are largely shaped by small business, and she thinks Barack Obama’s policies are not as good as Mitt Romney’s. Obama’s claims that the government largely helped small businesses, she said, offends her. Furthermore, she thinks Romney’s five-point plan will be good for economics. She dislikes Obama’s tax policies.

“I feel like the money that I earn shouldn’t have to be spent on people who don’t do anything about their situation,” she said.

She’s also not satisfied with Obama’s track record.

“I’ve seen what Obama has done so far, and I feel like he talks a lot of hope but hasn’t presented us with the end goal,” she added.

Like many others, however, Smith isn’t voting straight Republican. She wants to vote for who she thinks is the best candidate.

On Minnesota issues, Smith is putting a yes vote on both the voter ID amendment and marriage amendment.

“I show my ID everywhere else I go,” Smith said about the voter ID proposal.

On the marriage amendment, Smith falls back on Christianity and believes marriage should be between one man and one woman.

“I’m against [gay marriage],” she said. “I’m a pretty reserved Christian.”

Though she understands that viewpoint can catch a lot of heat, she’s not backing down.

“If people don’t like it, they shouldn’t ask,” she said.

With little time left, Smith said she will do some more research on local races, as she is undecided what candidates for whom to vote.


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