Name?

Krista Mae.

Birthdate? Address?

She inks in more answers.

Political Party?

Punk.

"Because I don't fall into Democrat or Republican," Mae explains.

The Astoria High School senior registered to vote for the first time, thanks in part to the effort of classmate Cristeen Atkinson.

Atkinson held voter registration sessions Thursday and Friday during the AHS lunch period, provided the students with Voter's Pamphlets and gave them basic information about voting in Oregon.

"It's important to me, because I figure I can help out the state, or the city, help it be better," Atkinson said.

The registration session was a part of her senior'The best way to speak out is by voting'

-Cristeen Atkinson,

Astoria High School student project, which also involves writing a paper, conducting an interview, keeping a journal and giving a presentation to members of the community.

"This is a really good project for Cristeen," said Colleen Tilley, who teaches the senior transitions class that encompasses the senior project requirement.

After getting permission from her mentor and the school administration, Atkinson talked with the Clatsop County Elections Division, whose staff provided all the learning and training materials for the drive, like voter registration cards, pamphlets published by the Secretary of State's office and stickers.

Atkinson advertised the project by making announcements in senior classes, hanging posters around the school, and putting a notice in the school newspaper, the Astor Post. The advanced warning gave 18-year-old students a chance to consider if they really wanted to register.

Finally, Atkinson designed an information stand and set up camp in the cafeteria, registering not only other people, but herself.

"You're first time you get that butterfly feeling in your stomach," she said. "It's finally come. I can vote."

Voter participation among individuals in their late teens and early twenties has historically been outpaced by other groups.

MORE INFO.April 27 is the deadline to vote in the May 18 election. As long as a person is 18 on or before Election Day, that person is eligible to register and to vote.According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, based at the University of Maryland's school of public affairs, 47 percent of people ages 18-24 voted in 2000, a presidential election year, compared to 78 percent of individuals 25 years and older. In 1998, 22 percent of young people voted, compared to 59 percent of older individuals.

But students like Mae are changing that statistic.

She said she's excited to be able to vote this year and register her feelings about "idiotic presidents."

"The best way to speak out is by voting," she said.

Atkinson agreed.

"When people have their own ideas or own thoughts they want to get out, by voting, they can show how they feel about it, who they want to be president," she said.

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