By Lauren Wiener         

On November 6, 2012, election booths will open and American citizens 18 years and older will cast their vote for the next president of the United States. The question is – Barack Obama (Democrat) or Mitt Romney (Republican)?

Regardless of one’s political party, making an informed decision entails a voter’s understanding of each candidate’s views and what they plan to accomplish when they assume the role of president.

Major topics in the presidential debate are the economy and jobs. Romney wants to return power to the states. Thus, he plans to decrease taxes, regulation, spending, and government programs. He plans to increase trade, human capital, labor flexibility, and energy production.

When Obama was first elected into office, he cut taxes for 95% of working families. He also extended the payroll tax cut for American workers and their families, which put an extra $1,000 into the pockets of middle class families. President Obama feels that the tax code benefits the wealthy and therefore has presented the Buffet Rule, which asks millionaires and billionaires to pay their share of income tax. Like Romney, Obama also wants to increase trade and has signed trade agreements with other countries. These agreements are expected to increase exports by about $13 billion and provide more than 70,000 jobs for Americans.

President Obama plans to get American troops out of Afghanistan. This past May, he signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan. This agreement states that by 2014, America’s combat mission in Afghanistan will end. Romney also plans to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and says that troops will be removed based on conditions on the ground as assessed by American military commanders.

If he is elected president, Mitt Romney plans to overthrow ObamaCare. Instead, he looks to create policies that allow each state the power to create their own healthcare reform. Barack Obama will keep ObamaCare and the Affordable Care Act as he believes this will restore health care and make it affordable for everyone.

Mitt Romney is a pro-life advocate and believes abortions kill innocent lives. However, on CBS Evening News on August 27, 2012, he stated, “I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape, and incest, and the health and life of the mother.” If he is elected president, he plans to overturn Roe vs. Wade and end federal funding for pro-choice advocates such as Planned Parenthood. President Obama, a supporter of freedom of choice, believes that abortion should be legal in all cases. He is also in favor of Roe vs. Wade, stating on the 39th anniversary of that amendment that it “protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom.” Obama also supports Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice advocates.

Obama wants to have health insurance plans make birth control less expensive and more accessible to women. However, certain religious organizations will not have to pay for their insurers to receive coverage for birth control expenses. Romney opposes the fact that only certain religious organizations will be exempt from this plan.

If he is elected president, Romney will create a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution that states that marriage is the matrimony of one man and one woman. His official website states that “it is so important to preserve traditional marriage – the joining together of one man and one woman.” On May 9, 2012, Barack Obama made history for being the first president to announce his support for gay marriage. Unlike Romney, he is against the Defense of Marriage Act and describes it as being unconstitutional.

These are some of the key issues in the 2012 presidential race. It is important to know all the facts and be an educated voter. Some of our seniors at Andover High School are turning 18 before the election. If you have not already registered to vote, it is important to do so. By casting your vote, not only do you get the chance to have a say in who becomes the next president but also to express your preference for the future direction of our country.

To learn more about the 2012 Presidential Candidates visit:

One can vote if they are 18 years or older and are a resident of Massachusetts and a U.S. citizen. Registration forms can be found at the Town Clerk’s Office, the lobby at Andover Town Hall, Andover Post Offices, and Memorial Hall Library. Forms can also be found on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. To receive a mail-in form call the State Elections Division at (800) 462-VOTE. For more information, please visit the website below: