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Young Voters Psyched to Cast First Votes

Margie Newman of Glenside, Pa. talks with her grandaughters Kelly Tarr, 20, center, and Elaina Tarr, 18, both of whom voted for the first time on Tuesday during primary election voting at the Glenside firehouse polling place just outside Philadelphia. (Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post)

By Krissah Williams
GLENSIDE, Pa. -- There are sure markers of maturity in a young person's life. First job. First car. First ballot cast.

At the fire station here in Glenside, young people were outright giddy at their chance to vote in the historic Democratic primary.

Elaina Tarr, 18, and her sister Kelly Price, 20, giggled as they stood outside the polling place.

"My friends and I are talking about him because people are saying he's going to make a change," Tarr said. Him being Sen. Barack Obama, of course, who has dominated the youth vote throughout the primary season.

"Everybody is like, 'I'm going to vote this year,'" said Price, who e-mailed all her friends on Facebook and MySpace about voting for Obama today.

Neither Tarr nor Price have their own car, so their grandmother, Margie Newman, brought them to the polling station.

"I'm so pleased that they themselves wanted to make sure they voted," Newman said. "They are old enough to know what's happening in the world so I wanted to make sure they got here."

Travis Henderson, 18, who was wearing a black University of Massachusetts, Boston, cap considers his first vote a kind of rite of passage.

"It finally gives everything I've said legitimacy, because people don't really listen to you if you're not voting," Henderson said. "I'll probably have a lifelong interest in politics. It's all connected for me."

Henderson, who volunteered as a poll watcher, decided to vote for Obama after watching his speech on race relations on YouTube. The polls closed here at 8 p.m. and he's part of the team helping to count the ballots in Glenside tonight.

Also voting for Obama was Amanda Rutter, who is almost 19. "It's kind of exciting because there was so much tension with the last two elections and I couldn't do anything," she said. "Now I can put my voice in the election."

Wait, wait. There are young Clinton supporters, too.

Matt McClenagham, 18, strode into the voting booth wearing Adidas slippers and his iPod.

Explaining his vote, he said: "I like Bill Clinton. He seems cool, and I figured I might as well do it."

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 22, 2008; 8:45 PM ET
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