This story was written by Liz O'Donnell, The Observer
Stephen Kahn is one of the millions of college students eager to cast a vote for the first time in this year's presidential election. The freshman from New York, however, is like few othershe is one of the youngest eligible voters in the nation after celebrating his 18th birthday on Monday, Nov. 3.
"I find it pretty amusing, people think it's cool when I tell them," Kahn said. "Also, I have good friend that is two weeks younger than I am that can't vote."
The majority of the students on campus will be casting their ballots for the first time in a presidential election this year. Anyone born after Nov. 2, 1986 was ineligible to vote in the 2004 contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry.
Kahn knows someone who is at the other end of the spectrum: a friend who missed the last presidential election by only five days.
"My best friend's brother is three years and about 360 days older than I am, and we will be voting for the first time in the same election. It's a small fact that I will always be able to tell people," Kahn said.
Since the beginning of the school year, the campus has been abuzz with different student groups trying to get out the message to vote. The student body has consequently taken a heightened interest in the election.
Like many first-time voters in the freshman class, Kahn said that he is thrilled to be voting for the first time this election.
"It's pretty exciting. I have friends that are still in high school telling me that I'm lucky," he said.
Kahn also pointed out that the strong participation by young voters in both presidential campaigns contributed to his anticipation.
"I've never really considered voting to be that 'exciting' but with so much attention being paid to this election, especially from the youth of America, I certainly feel like I'm fortunate to be involved," Kahn said.
Similar to many people, Kahn said he believes the economy is the most important issue in this election.
"Being a college student, the state of the economy is probably my No. 1 concern when it comes to politics, I know I would hate to have graduated from college last year or be graduating this year, and I don't want the economy to be in a similar state in four years," he said.
Kahn also cited the war in Iraq and national security as two other important issues.
Pollsters are predicting a record number of college-age voters in this year's election. Kahn agreed with these forecasts, but personally hopes that the youth have motives behind their choice.
"I think it's extremely important for the youth of America to vote, but it's even more important that they vote for the right reasons. It seems that voting is becoming a 'trendy' thing to do. Young voters need to pay attention to the issues, and make educated decisions," he said.