A new study shows more college students intend to vote this year. Roughly one-third of the voters in the under-30 crowd cast ballots in the last presidential election. But a Harvard University study has found 70 percent of college students intend to vote this year. Fueled mainly by anger, the survey found 52 percent of college students would support John Kerry and 39 percent planned to vote for George Bush. Twenty-one-year-old Simpson college student Kelsey Christiansen of Lake Mills is a relative of former republican Governor Terry Branstad, but she’s already cast her absentee ballot for democrat John Kerry. “I think we need a change,” she says. “I haven’t been impressed with George Bush and I just think we need something different.” Twenty-year-old Simpson College student Nikki Carlton of Pleasantville is voting for the first time. “I feel that it’s a big responsibility and that kids like young kids or like 18 and over obviously need to go out and vote because their vote truly does count,” Carlton says. Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards campaigned on the Simpson College campus this week, and targeted part of his message to young voters. “So many times in our country’s history it’s taken young people to change the country the way we needed to be changed,” Edwards said. “If you drive by polling places on election day and there are long lines and those lines are filled with young people, John Kerry will be the next President of the United States.” This past July, President Bush spoke at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, and he urged students to become part of his campaign. “Listen, there’s a place you can go on…the Internet called georgewbush.com, and you need to get on there if you want to figure out how to help,” Bush said. “You can sign up to work in your neighborhood and that’s what I’m here to ask you to do…I want your help to convincing people from all walks of life — republicans and discerning democrats and wise independents.” To give you an idea of how interest in politics among college students has jumped this election, there were nearly 30,000 requests for absentee ballots in Johnson County this year — Johnson County is the home of the University of Iowa. That’s nearly double the number of absentee ballots requested in that county four years ago. While not all of those absentee ballot requests came from students, many did and it’s indicative of the heightened interest on college campuses in Iowa and nationwide.
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