Web Exclusive - An interview with Leah Haslage, local MTV Choose or Lose correspondent, conducted by ideastream's Marie Andrusewicz.
Are you finding that young voters are more likely to be Republicans or Democrats?
Leah Haslage: You know, they really don't tell me their affiliation, but I have seen so many kids so pumped to vote, compared to the last presidential election. It's amazing how many kids are actively involved.
Why do you think that is?
Leah Haslage: It's September 11th and seeing how education is going, with the levies that are failing and knowing how that's going to affect them. They feel that health care is at its worst. They're seeing the trickle down effects of what happens when people don't get involved.
If kids tell you they are not planning on voting, what kind of reasons do they give?
Leah Haslage: Sometimes they say their vote doesn't count, and I hate that. Sometimes it's because they don't like any of the candidates. They don't feel like they're reaching out to them. It's really sad too. There's all this game playing about Bush's service record and Kerry's war record and all this propaganda and media garbage -- this is what the kids hear and it really discourages them. It's become more about the personal than about the issues.
I'm sure a lot of older voters feel the same way. What kind of things do you say to younger people who need to be convinced that they should vote?
Leah Haslage: Basically, I talk to them and find out what their concerns are. If they mention a failed school levy for example, I suggest that if school funding is an important issue, why don't you support a candidate who has a plan you agree with to better that situation.
You recently attended a speech by President Bush. What was that like?
Leah Haslage: It was so surreal - just the atmosphere - everyone supporting the leader. You know he didn't really answer the questions. I just did a show yesterday with six students who attended the rally, two Democrats, two Republicans and two undecideds and they all agreed that the one thing they were kind of perturbed about was that he didn't bring up education. He was at a high school so it was a prime opportunity, but he didn't talk about education.
It sounds like you're not that impressed with the candidates' efforts to connect with young voters.
Leah Haslage: I saw a special with John Kerry on MTV and he took questions and talked to vee jays - it was a good special and well done. I've kind of seen Bush get out there; I'd like to see more. Back in ‘92 I remember being a kid and watching Bill Clinton go on MTV and really reach out and then later I remember seeing him on Arsenio Hall. How cool is that, he's playing sax on Arsenio Hall? I was like, 8. And that was the highest voting year for young voters. This should be sign for future candidates.