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First-time voters weighing their options

Young people vow to make voices heard

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They say they'll vote Oct. 4, but if recent trends hold true, three of them won't.

Five young Winnipeggers, whom the Winnipeg Free Press met almost a year ago at Windsor Park Collegiate when they were in Grade 12, now spend a little part of each day following the provincial election campaign.

"Little" is the key word as it might only involve watching an ad on TV or noticing a candidate's sign in their neighbourhood.

Whatever, each of the five former high school students -- yes, they all graduated with flying colours -- is fully aware of what's going on, who the leaders are and who the candidates are in their riding.

They also know Oct. 4 is more than just another Tuesday.

And none of them worry that the politicians haven't spent a lot of time talking about issues that directly impact young people -- they're mature enough to know things like the economy, crime and health care affect them as much as their parents and grandparents.

They also said the political ads they see on TV or what they read and watch on the Internet doesn't really influence how they will vote. What does is what the politicians say.

Because of that, a couple of them have even made their minds up on who will get their vote in their first provincial election.

 

Jennifer Bales

"Hugh McFadyen," the first-year University of Winnipeg student said. "I think the NDP are going to win anyway, but from what I've heard from Hugh McFadyen, I'm going to vote for him."

Bales, who turns 18 two days before election day, also said she likes McFadyen because of his promise to spend $4.95 million in his first term as premier to help those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

"My grandma just got diagnosed with Alzheimer's and I think it was a great idea that he had that focus on one thing. If he did get the chance to look at this disease better, it would start a trend on to other diseases being researched more."

Bales, who also works part-time with Downtown Watch, said the Tories appear to be running a more noticeable campaign as McFadyen's picture appears on almost every second bus bench.

"I feel like he and his candidates have gone everywhere," she said.

 

Aidan Ramsay

He said he also likes McFadyen. The first-year University of Manitoba student heard some of the Tory leader's comments on getting tough on crime and hasn't looked at any other candidate since.

What's missing for him, however, is more discussion from the parties on the high cost of education and what could be done to make getting to and from the U of M easier for students using transit.

"The bus gets so full going there it won't stop for the people who are waiting," Ramsay said.

The extension of the new rapid transit bus corridor to the U of M hasn't been a huge election issue. The first phase of the corridor, a 3.6-kilometre link between Queen Elizabeth Way and Jubilee Avenue, is expected to open in April 2012. The $138-million bus corridor has been under construction since 2009.

 

Matt Landry

Also in his first year at the U of W, Landry said he's also concerned about the high cost of university.

But he's more worried, at this point at least, that not too many young people know or care there's a provincial election campaign.

"A lot of people don't look interested," he said, adding he's not sure who will get his ballot. "Nothing has caught the attention of young adults."

 

Andrea Martinez

With about two weeks left in the campaign, the U of W student also said she's undecided.

"I haven't made up my mind," she said. "I don't know who's telling the truth or not. I'm going to be voting for the first time. It's a big responsibility. I don't want to regret my choice. I don't want to live with that for four years."

 

Jordan Mackay

Mackay is just the opposite. Mackay took the first year after high school off, choosing to work instead.

"I'm voting for Hugh McFadyen," he said. "I think it would be better to get some change in there.

"I like what he wants to do for crime and how he wants to reduce waiting lists in health care," he said.

Elections Manitoba is making it easier for voters of all ages to go to the ballot box. Fifty new advance poll locations have been added to be open for an extra day. In this election, voters can go to any advance voting place in the province. Advance polls are open Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday).

Polls at universities, community colleges and malls will also be open on election day, opening an hour earlier at 7 a.m. The deadline to get on the voters' list is Sept 22. For more information, go to Election Manitoba's website.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2011 A5

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