Jay Boggs, 19, of Juneau said he's seen the "political propaganda machine" at work and he wants to play a part in deciding who leads the country for the next four years.
During an outdoor Rock the Vote concert at Marine Park Saturday Boggs registered to vote for the first time so he can vote to re-elect Republican President George W. Bush. Clad in a sweatshirt, T-shirt and baggy gray pants, Boggs said he's concerned that a change in power would hurt the country's chances of winning the war in Iraq.
"(Bush) started it and he's going to finish it," Boggs said.
Boggs' friend had a different idea about why it's important to register.
"To legalize it," he yelled out.
Boggs is one of several young people that registered for the first time during the event that featured a dozen local bands. The event was organized by local musician Teri Tibbett.
Tibbett said she set up the concert to target people 18 to 25, a demographic that is well-known for staying home on Election Day.
"The current thought is that young people have been apathetic," Tibbett said. She said many young people are focused on their social lives and don't find time to register or get educated on the political issues of the day.
Tibbett described herself as a lifelong voter who turned 18 just in time to vote in the general election in 1972, the first year 18-year-olds were allowed to vote.
At the Saturday concert, Tibbett distributed copies of a bill in Congress that would reinstate the draft for military service to illustrate to young people how important it is for them to understand and participate in politics.
Cheyenne Queller, Amy Shackelford and Bruce Brown, all 22, said they registered to vote at the concert.
Shackelford said she would probably vote for Democrat John Kerry for president to bring a change in Washington. She criticized Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq.
"(Bush) has shown leadership," she said. "But he hasn't put a lot of foresight into planning things."
Brown, who works for the Juneau nonprofit organization Southeast Alaska Independent Living, said his job partly motivated him to register and vote. He said cuts in grant funding since Bush took office made him realize that he should register and make his voice heard.
Those who still haven't registered have one week before the registration deadline for the Nov. 2 general election.
Elizabeth Cuadra with the nonpartisan organization League of Women Voters said she and other members have spent the last several weeks working to register voters.
She said the group has scoped out potential voters to register at Juneau-Douglas High School, the University of Alaska Southeast, Gastineau Human Services, the Glory Hole soup kitchen and Nugget Mall.
"I'm trying to reach populations that have tended not to vote in the past," she said.
For more information on voter registration visit the Web at www.elections.state.ak.us.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at email@example.com.