Census Report: More than 22 million young Americans voted in 2008 Election

Newly released census data confirms that the turnout rate among 18-29 year olds was one of the highest on record, according to analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). More than 22 million young Americans went to the polls, an increase of 2 million from 2004 and over 6.5 million from 2000. Rock the Vote salutes their participation and is prepared to help take their passion and enthusiasm to new levels of civic engagement.
“After decades of being written off by the political world as disengaged and apathetic, America’s young voters turned out to the polls in droves and reshaped the political landscape,” said Heather Smith, Rock the Vote’s executive director. “It is time to put to bed the question of whether or not young people will vote and start focusing on whether the priorities of this voting bloc are being addressed by the people we elected.”

Last year Rock the Vote launched the largest non partisan youth voter registration campaign in history with more than 2.6 million people using our online voter registration tool, more than doubling the organization’s 2004 numbers.

While turnout nationally remained consistent, Election Day 2008 was the third election (2004, 2006, 2008) in a row where young voters increased their turnout at the polls. 51% of young people turned out to vote in 2008, an increase of 2 percentage points over 2004.  In 2004, the youth voter turnout rate was 49%, an increase of 9 percentage points over the 2000 election.

President Obama connected with young voters and talked to them about the critical issues at stake in today’s economy. Rock the Vote staff, street team leaders, volunteers, artists and our partner organizations have been working diligently to make sure young people were registered, educated on the issues, understood the voting process and knew their rights when they turned out to the polls. Now we must work together to ensure that the Obama administration and Congress hold true the promises made to young voters.  

“Young people turned out in this election – as they have in the past – because they were asked. If candidates continue to engage young voters and address their needs, 18-29 year olds will continue to expand the electorate and make their participation permanent,” said Smith. “Young Americans across the country voted to demand affordable healthcare and college education, energy reform and jobs with decent wages. All politicians from the Obama administration to Congress to local leaders must respond to the concerns of the youngest constituency if they intend to win their strong support in the future.”

Once engaged, young voters will keep voting – participation is a habit.  The sheer number of young people – 45 million – can’t be ignored. Young Americans are dictating politics and the future of our democracy.

In 2009, Rock the Vote is ensuring that young Americans voices are echoed throughout the halls of Congress, at state legislatures, in city council meetings and in local elections across the country.  Our work doesn’t stop now.

For additional information on young voter turnout in the 2008 Election, reference CIRCLE’s “The Youth Vote 2008 Fact Sheet”.

About Rock the Vote: Rock the Vote’s mission is to engage and build the political power of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country.  Rock the Vote uses music, popular culture and new technologies to engage and incite young people to register and vote in every election. And we give young people the tools to identify, learn about, and take action on the issues that affect their lives, and leverage their power in the political process.  Rock the Vote is creative, effective, and controlled by nobody’s agenda but our own – we tell it like it is and pride ourselves on being a trusted source for information on politics.  We empower the 45 million young people in America who want to step up, claim their voice in the political process, and change the way politics is done. www.rockthevote.org