Galvanizing Young Voters
Catherine Rampell's March 30 op-ed column, "Why Obama Rocks the Vote," falsely framed recent surges in turnout of young adults -- voters ages 18 to 29 -- and failed to recognize the important work done by nonpartisan organizations such as Rock the Vote.
Turnout of these young voters in fall elections increased by 4.3 million in 2004 and by another 2 million in 2006. Far from being an anomaly, 2008 is set to become the third major election in a row with an increase in turnout among young voters.
While Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is doing excellent work engaging young adults this year, our research shows that registration is a major step toward participation. In 2004, 82 percent of registered young adults voted, up from 74 percent in 2000. In 2004, Rock the Vote registered nearly 1 million voters, and already in 2008, more than 500,000 young adults have used our online tool to register to vote. Like the Obama campaign, Rock the Vote's message embraces the hopeful spirit of the millennial generation, and our tested and proven strategies of peer-to-peer mobilization reflect youth culture.
We're seeing unprecedented engagement in the primaries and caucuses so far and are confident we'll see this continue through November.
-- Heather Smith
The writer is executive director of Rock the Vote.