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Columbia Missourian

Voters and readers voice what's important to them in the election

By Abby Eisenberg
November 5, 2012 | 4:27 p.m. CST
At a watch party for the first presidential debate, MU students said what they'd ask the candidates if they had a chance.

COLUMBIA — In the weeks leading up to the election, the Missourian's community outreach team has been interested in what voters and readers had to say. We sought out their opinions about the candidates, their questions regarding the issues and their reasons for being politically involved. You can find all the voices we collected here.

On the candidates

At a nonpartisan MU student watch party, we asked attendees which candidate they would rather tailgate with, who they would rather study with and who they planned to vote for.

Madison Knapp said she'd rather study with Obama since "he's better at explaining things without being redundant, it seems." However, she intends to vote for and would want to tailgate with Mitt Romney, who Knapp said "probably goes to the kind of tailgate where they serve lobster and hand out free merch."

Daniel Lewis said he plans to vote for Obama, with whom he'd rather tailgate. He'd rather study with Romney, though.

"He has two Harvard degrees — if it's Obama, you're kind of screwed because he only has one Harvard degree," Lewis said.

On the issues

At a nonpartisan debate watch party in MU's Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, we asked people what questions they would ask the presidential candidates if they had the chance. Readers were curious about a range of issues, including energy conservation, gay rights, campaign financing and health care.


Steffano Chavez asked about third-party involvement in the debates.

Dominique Feldman wants to know about the candidates' stance on energy conservation.

At another watch party in MU's Bengal Lair, attendees seemed to focus more on education issues, such as financial aid and teacher compensation.

Myra Gee would ask about teachers' salaries, foreign oil and a compensation plan for veterans.

Carlton Slaughter posed a question about the removal of financial aid and how that would affect middle and lower class families. 

We also tapped into reader opinions on Proposition B, which would increase Missouri's tobacco excise tax, by asking them if they thought making cigarettes more expensive would prevent people from smoking. Of 14 responders, nine indicated that yes, higher costs would help prevent smoking, and five said no, it wouldn't.

On political motivations

Despite the stereotype of American political apathy, some mid-Missourians say being involved in politics is critically important. To find out what drives them, we asked people about their motivations for being politically involved.

Aline Kultgen, civil liberties co-chair for the League of Women Voters of Columbia, wrote that losing her father in the Holocaust has been a driving factor for her political engagement. (Find her whole story here.)

"I am fully aware that genocides are still going on, and I am often discouraged that we haven't yet learned that lesson," she wrote. "But certainly if my father could keep fighting for what he believed in the face of German occupation, I can't give up either."

Frank Christian, a frequent Missourian commenter, is troubled by events over the past four years and sees a new American leader as the only hope for a better future. (Find his whole story here.)

"In my opinion, before the 1960s our two major political parties, Democrats and Republicans, were seen by the public as both wanting the best for America and Americans, but each just saw different ways to get there," he wrote. "This, obvious to those paying attention, is no longer the case."

Homer Page, chairman of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, remembers being an MU student in the early '60s and being involved in the civil rights movement in Columbia. "My generation believed that we could change our country and make the dream of equality for all come true through direct action in the political process," he wrote. (Find his whole story here.)

"I am involved in the political process, because I still believe that the American democracy is the best hope that we have for creating a world where our grandchildren can live with opportunity, joy and the dignity that comes with pride in one's homeland."

Find the rest of our community-generated election stories here. For more information to help inform your decisions on Election Day, check out our Voters Guide.

Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.