With the upcoming primary elections scheduled for  April 3, Tyler Junior College students will be greatly affected by decisions that will ultimately impact the presidential election in November.

“Most kids in college are worried about grades or work or their girlfriend…and they don’t realize how important it is to them, particularly in this time,” according to Ashton Oravetz, Smith County Republican Chairman and former TJC professor.

“We’re at a critical turning point in our country.”

The upcoming primary elections determine the candidates who will represent each party in the November presidential election.

Renee’ Stephens, TJC nursing student, believes that this particular election will certainly influence the future of this generation.

“For college students specifically, I think it’s important because they potentially can be impacted more than any other age group at this point. They’re the ones looking in the immediate future…to be affected by the decisions that are made there.”

While President Barack Obama holds the position on the Democratic ballot, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum all are still fighting for the Republican nomination. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is running as the Libertarian candidate.

Much controversy has risen concerning the date of the primary election—in Texas specifically. Originally set for Feb. 6, the Supreme Court ruled for a later date. 

According to Karen Nelson, Smith County Election coordinator, the issue sprung from the recent census taken in 2010. Redistricting and redrawing the lines has taken much time and debate, prolonging the elections.

“At time, there is not a defiant primary date, only a tentative date of April 3, 2012, which doesn’t appear to be promising.” 

There is more to voting in this election that simply going and casting a ballot. A person must register at least 30 days before any election to vote. Also, anyone living outside of their home county must either return to that county or register specifically in Smith County.

Stephens, also a current Federal Government student, explained that this experience in voting will help her understand the course.

“The best way to learn [government] is to participate in it and go through the whole process…for me, that’s a hands-on experience. If I don’t actually participate in it and get engaged, then I’m never going to learn it.”

Oravetz also gives his own philosophy on the issue.

“My old thing is if you haven’t voted, you can’t complain.”

However, many students do not understand that registering for this particular election is equally as important as the one in November. 

“They have the potential to be hugely impacted, and if they don’t speak up and do the research of learning the options they have, they could be shooting themselves in the foot,” Stephens said. “They are the future, so why should they not take a part in constructing that future for themselves?”

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