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For Young Voters In a Media Jungle, A Study Guide

Take Jamia Wilson, 27, a New York University graduate student who gets all her news online.

"There are many people just like me," she says. "Voters who are really active online. Voters who are educating themselves on the Internet, especially on the issues."

The idea for VoteGopher popped up shortly before Ruben cast his first vote. It was in 2006, the midterm elections were looming and he couldn't find a site that told him where the candidates stood on issues. Not about who's up or down on the polls, not about the private lives of the candidates, not about speeches or debate performances, but about the issues, he says.

So Ruben, the eldest son of a real estate developer and a homemaker, used his savings -- about $9,000 -- to kick off his project. He also enlisted a few of his friends, including 19-year-old Alex Lavoie, a political junkie who swears by "The West Wing." Together, Ruben and Lavoie, dormmates separated only by a wall where a poster of John F. Kennedy hangs, enlisted other Harvard students who didn't mind not getting paid for their work. The job requirements: Keep your opinions out of VoteGopher. Stay on top of online news. Focus on the issues.

The site launched in October and, Ruben says, and its readership, while still considerably small, has grown to about 500 unique visitors a day.

And that includes Garcia.

During a break from finishing a paper on the Cuban Revolution, she's reading up on Obama's and Clinton's positions on immigration. A Democrat, Garcia's torn between those two candidates.

"I'm not going to lie. I like the fact that Clinton could be this country's first female president," says Garcia, the eldest of four sisters. But Obama's freshness is appealing, too. "He's not a Bush and he's not a Clinton," she adds. But, more importantly, she says she prefers Obama's position on whether illegal immigrants should have driver's licenses. Obama's for it, Clinton's not.

"I read that Clinton changed her position on that," Garcia explains. "Clinton first said she's for it and then said she's against it."

How does she know? She read it on VoteGopher.


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