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Here's Why These Young Kansas Citians Are Voting For The First Time

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Laura Ziegler
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KCUR 89.3
UMKC fraternity brothers Nick Coffey, Angelo J. Pacheco and Spenser Morgan share a passion for politics, though they'll vote differently on November 6.

Young voters are expected to turn out in these midterm elections in higher numbers than they have for many years, according to a Harvard University poll released Monday.

Forty percent of voters between 18 and 29 said they would "definitely vote." In the past, young people have voted less than those in other groups.

Two-thirds of the likely young voters surveyed said they hoped Democrats would take over control of Congress, but enthusiasm among Republicans grew as well.

We've been reaching out to young voters as part KCUR's election coverage. Here are some of their stories.

 

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Name: Kaylynn Donnell

Age: 18

School: Avila University, education major

Issues: medical marijuana, chaotic Kavanaugh hearings, lack of reliable information 

"Being a woman, we didn't get the right to vote until after a lot of other people, when the 19th amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] came out, so I feel like it's my duty to respect the people who came before me who fought for my right to vote and to vote myself."

 

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Name: Kiersten Jackson

Age: 19

School: University of Missouri-Kansas City, communication studies

Issues/concerns: accurate information, responsibility of voting and electing representatives

“I feel like I don’t have very much to vote for. The last election we really didn’t have too much of a choice. It was either Trump or Hillary and they both kind of suck. I think with my peers, we are paying attention now because we’re registered and we're more responsible for what happens with the government. It will be exciting to have a say in what happens in your state and your country.”

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Name: Nikki Seraji

Age: 18  

School: University of Missouri-Kansas City, medical school

Issues/concerns: tigher gun restrictions, Missouri senate race

"I’m definitely watching the Claire McCaskill race. It’s really tight because he’s young and good-looking [Josh Hawley,] so people really like him, and just recently with all the shootings, [we need] more restrictions on [guns] so no one else is harmed.” 

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Name: Angelo Pacheco

Age: 18

School: University of Missouri-Kansas City, business/entrepreneurship

Issues/Concerns: small government, 2nd amendment rights, support for diversity

"I think it’s vital to the President’s agenda to be able to keep the majority after the midterms. I think that’s why we’re seeing a surge of young voters. I think the election in 2016 really woke a lot of people up. And that’s what started this young people voting movement. [Also] the recent shootings have motivated young people. I think that this election is more passionate than the last one to say the least."

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Name: Brianna Jaynes

Age: 20

School: Johnson County Community College, nursing

Issues/Concerns: violence, race relations

“I’m pretty nervous [about voting for the first time.] It feels like a big decision. I definitely want to do my research before I vote, and if I don’t find [a candidate I like] I might not even vote, because my thing is society has gone straight downhill in the past couple of years. I have a one-year-old and raising him in this society worries me because of all the violence. He’s biracial and that’s going to be another hard thing, so I’m scared.”

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Name: Nick Coffey

Age: 21

School: University of Missouri-Kansas City, political science

Issues/Concerns: divisive rhetoric, immigration, climate change, gun violence

"I think that just seeing the way it's gone over the past year and a half has been incredibly divisive and kind of crazy. It feels like [young] voices aren't being heard, and I'm excited to be able to get some new voices in there. I think that's why it's incredibly important and why it feels different this time."

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter and producer. Reach her via Twitter,@laurazig or email lauraz@kcur.org.

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