Youth Voters Poised to Make History on Election Day 2008
Young people are poised to make this election one for the history books. According to the Associated Press there are approximately 9 million new voters registered in this election cycle, nearly half are under the age of 30. This year Rock the Vote launched the largest voter registration campaign in history with over 2.5 million people registering to vote through rockthevote.com, more than doubling the organization’s 2004 numbers.
Young people represent approximately 25% of the voting age population and this year they have emerged as a political powerhouse.
“No more will pundits, the media or politicians call the youth voter apathetic. Tuesday we will play a critical role is deciding who our next president will be and what direction the country will take,” said Heather Smith, the Executive Director of Rock the Vote. “That’s political power.”
Election Day 2008 will be the third election in a row in which young voters have increased their turnout at the polls. In 2004, the youth voter turnout rate was 49%, an increase of 9 percentage points over the 2000 election. In 2006, young voter turnout increased by 3 percentage points over the last midterm election.
Historically, 81.6% of registered young people have cast a ballot in presidential elections; those that registered for the first time or closest to the deadline are most likely to turn out. These statistics point toward a record youth turnout on Tuesday.
To ensure young people turn out, Rock the Vote’s field teams are mobilizing get-out-the-vote efforts across the country from Colorado to Virginia throwing “parties at the polls” and ensuring that every eligible young voter is able to cast a ballot.
Rock the Vote street team leaders and poll watchers are stationed in:
* University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
* Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
* University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
* Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
* Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana
* University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
Each of these schools has a student body in excess of 50,000 people, many of whom will be voting for the first time in this election.
Increased youth voter participation in this election has been evident since the primary season and lends credence that a youth movement, which has been building for a few election cycles, is real. For example:
* In Tennessee young voters quadrupled their turnout in the state’s primary, up from 35,000 in 2000 to nearly 140,000 young people between the ages of 18-29
* In California more than 850,000 voters under 30 cast primary ballots, far surpassing 2000 and 2004 levels.
According to Rock the Vote’s latest poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and the Tarrance Group, the faltering economy is the motivating concern for young voters this Election. In addition:
* 51% said “creating jobs” was a 10 on a scale of 1-10 (most important) in deciding for whom to vote in November.
* 41% of those surveyed said the next president should take action on the economy and jobs as his first move in office.
* In a close second and third, “gas prices/energy” were cited by 50% of those surveyed as a 10 as well, while 45% cited “health care” as a 10.
* 88% of 18-29 year olds think that, as a group, young people have the power to change the direction of the country.
On Election Day, Rock the Vote’s website (www.rockthevote.org) will have up to the minute statistics on youth turnout at youth-dense precincts as well as stories, photos and video footage from local activity in key states across the country and historical data on the youth vote.