Winning the youth vote

A view of the audience at Barak Obama’s speech at the Civic Auditorium last night showed a majority of young faces among the enthusiastic crowd, just as it was young people handing out flyers for the event at Muni stations earlier in the week. Obama, the youngest presidential contender for 2008 has attracted a large following of young potential voters. The questions now is–will these young voters turn out at the ballot box? In the more than 30 years since 18-year-olds won the right to vote, the turnout figures for this group have been disappointing. Despite increased use of the Internet in campaigns and YouTube videos designed to reach the under-thirty crowd, will the turnout be any better when the primary season starts in early 2008? There are barriers–many young voters work long hours, they often move frequently so have to re-register to vote, and many don’t have the patience to stand in line at the polls. The League has worked for years to increase voting turnout, encouraging absentee and early voting for people who find it hard to get to the polls. The coming presidential campaigns will offer a test of how well these tactics work. There is a strong call for change among young people–but will they make the effort to get to the ballot box to vote for it?

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