Tuesday was a milestone for Tera Leonard and Earl Woods.
The Hobbs High School students, who 18 years ago were born within a couple weeks of one another, cast ballots in their first election.
And the fact that Leonard and Woods cancelled each other’s presidential vote did little to dim their enthusiasm for participating in a process that has been around for more than 200 years.
“I’ve always been excited to know what was going on in government – ever since I was a little kid,” said Leonard, a Republican.
“I always saw my mom go vote and my family always told me how important it was,” countered Woods, a Democrat.
Leonard registered to vote in her U.S. Government class at HHS. In addition to filing the registration paperwork for eligible 18-year-olds, instructor Ty Friend also sponsored Republican and Democratic class presentations and conducted a student election in each class on Tuesday.
Although he is not enrolled in U.S. government, Woods said he didn’t need any prompting to register to vote. In fact, he did so the day after his 18th birthday in September. “It was mainly because my family are really encouraging me on voting – speaking out and expressing my rights,” Woods said.
In early October, Leonard and Woods watched the first debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Woods admits he caught highlights of the showdown while Leonard said she watched the whole shebang with her parents. “My dad’s a Democrat and my mom’s a Republican,” Leonard said. “We all just kind of sat and watched but didn’t say too much. We all get pretty defensive about things when we start talking about it.”
As Election Day neared, the high school seniors made definite decisions about who they would support.
Leonard liked Romney’s plan to reduce the deficit, create jobs and stimulate the economy. “Plus, I agree with more of his values,” she said.
Woods favors Obama’s stance on reducing interest rates on student college loans and his focus on education in general. “I like that Obama is putting more funding toward it instead of taking away” Woods said.
Leonard said she would spend Tuesday night watching election returns in what she predicted will be a very close race. “If (Obama )wins, I won’t be disappointed, but I would hope to see improvement,” she said. “If (Romney) wins, then I believe there will be improvement.”
Woods, in the meantime, was at Tasker Arena playing in a basketball scrimmage. A starter for the HHS Eagles, Woods is preparing for what he hopes will be his own winning season. But he’ll DVR the event and likely watch later with his aunts and mother.
Both agree with an election this close, every vote counts. And this will be the first of many elections in their future.
“Being able to vote kind of makes me feel older,” Woods said, “because it’s always older people who are voting.”
“I’m very excited because most of my classmates aren’t able to vote this year,” Leonard added. “It kind of gives you that whole feeling of, ‘I’m growing up and now I have say in what’s going on.”