Young People Tired Of Being Characterized As Apathetic

Super Tuesday was historic for young people in America, according to CNN’s exit polls and tabulations from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), in nearly every state holding their primary or caucus last night, youth voter turnout increased significantly- doubling, tripling and even quadrupling turnout from 2000 & 2004!

Sitting at my desk reading the headlines and trying to figure out the ages of voter turn-out last night, I received a press release from ROCK THE VOTE with GREAT NEWS!  Their press release had the following information:

Young voters in Tennessee quadrupled their turnout last night, up from 35,000 in 2000 to nearly 140,000 young people between the ages of 18-29 casting a vote in last night’s primary.  In Georgia, young voters tripled their turnout this year with more than 280,000 individuals casting a ballot last night compared to approximately 92,000 ballots cast in 2000.  And in California, more than 850,000 voters under 30 cast ballots, far surpassing 2000 and 2004 levels.  California, Tennessee and Georgia were not alone. If fact, young voter turnout increased in every state where comparisons where available from the last two election cycles.  (A detailed fact sheet and additional statistics are available upon request)

In addition, youth turnout was the winning margin of victory in several states.  For example, on the Democratic side, Barack Obama won the state of Missouri by just 10,000 votes, propelled to victory by 75,000 young people casting ballots in his favor. On the Republican side, 45,000 young people voted for Mike Huckabee, far surpassing his 23,000 vote margin of victory. (Additional examples available upon request by contacting ROCK THE VOTE)
“The entire world watched as one of the most electrifying moments in U.S. election history unfolded on Tuesday," said Heather Smith, Executive Director, Rock the Vote.  "Young people are tired of being characterized as apathetic and uninterested in politics.  They are casting ballots like never before, volunteering on campaigns, organizing at their schools, and have shown, since the first contest in January, they will pick the next President of the United States."
Not only are young people fed up and fighting back at the polls but they are also being targeted by campaigns.  It is clear candidates are reaching out to young people and asking for their vote, which is critical for engaging and mobilizing any age group in the political process.  It’s also clear candidates are targeting young people because they know they need young voters to win.  Young voters have become the tipping point in this election, and Rock the Vote is mobilizing and fueling this movement of young voters at the polls.

The power of the youth vote is extraordinary; since 2004 young people have been voting in growing numbers. More than 350,000 young people have downloaded voter registration forms through Rock the Vote’s website this election cycle and more than 20,000 young people have pledged to vote by signing Rock the Vote’s “Pledge to Pick the Prez.” Young voters are in a position to shape the political landscape for decades to come.
This year, Rock the Vote will run the largest registration drive in history by registering two million young people in this election. Through their online voter registration tool, mobile marketing, a series of youth forums, get-out-the-vote events, and a summer concert tour, Rock the Vote is reaching out, building on the energy and activism of young adults and empowering them to make their voices heard.  Visit their website here for more information.

In California, the California State Student Association (CSSA) and the University of California State Student Association (UCSA) have been collaborating to push for an increase in voter registration numbers among CA college students.  It is inspiring to see the efforts of other organizations, like Rock the Vote that are doing the same across state borders.

For voter registration information in California, you may visit the CSSA website here.

Or the Secretary of State, Debra Bowen’s website here.

Remember to vote in the Direct Primary on June 3, 2008, you have until May 19, 2008 to register to vote.

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