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Turning Out the Youth

By Jose Antonio Vargas

It's that time of the campaign season again. Except this time, as with anything to do with Campaign '08, the worry over youth voter turnout started . . . in the primary season.

"Young voters have historically had low turnout during the primaries," former congressman Jim Leach told The Trail. "We need to focus on that."

Last week Leach, now head of Harvard's Institute of Politics, helped launch No Vote, No Voice, a one-stop-shop online hub for young voters. The site encourages high school and college-age students to register to vote, get informed through youth-operated sites, such CampusVoices, and add a Facebook application inviting their FFs, aka Facebook Friends, to pledge to vote.

"It's impressive how the big issues of this election are disproportionately youth-oriented," said Leach, the Iowa Republican who served in Congress for more than 30 years. "If on the table is war, it's young people who are asked to go to war. If on the table are deficits, it's young people that have to pay them back in the entirety of their working careers. If on the table is climate change, we may be in the last decade of normality."

'Tis the season of targeting the youth vote. Outside of campaigns organizing their supporters on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace, social networks popular among college students and high schoolers, new youth-oriented sites, such as VoteGopherand Scoops08, keep popping up. Scoop08 is basically an online newspaper written and edited by young people for young people; VoteGopher, created by Will Ruben, a Harvard student, is an issue-focused site operated by Harvard students.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 17, 2007; 12:31 PM ET
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Indeed, youth do have the most at stake in this election cycle. That's why more than a million of them are engaging elected officials in all 50 states as a part of Focus the Nation (, a day of education and informed civic engagement on global warming solutions. Teams around the country have invited 50 Senators and 100 US Representatives so far. The youth are demanding that the US government take climate change seriously.

Posted by: alex | December 21, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

If these college students weren't residents then why would they have local mailing addresses. All college students get a mailbox at their chosen school. What are you worried about? Let them vote. Its their right and you cant take that away from them.

Posted by: dsansone | December 18, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

newagent99: let me get this straight -- a college student lives in their college town for 9-10 months a year (at least), but you say they're NOT a resident? That makes little sense intuitively or legally. College students have every legal right to choose their college residence as their voting residence, and since they spend most of their time living there, it is more likely that they would be an engaged citizen there than at their parents' home.

Posted by: jmm7001 | December 18, 2007 2:58 AM | Report abuse

newagent99, the sad fact these efforts are trying to remedy is that most college students don't vote once, much less twice.

Are you really worried about voter fraud, or are you more concerned with protecting the rising Social Security and Medicare payments that are being leveraged against these non-voters' future earnings?

Posted by: vertigo963 | December 18, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

As to college kids voting , let's make certain they don't vote twice, once in their college town (where they are NOT residents) and once in their parents town, where they are residents.

Posted by: newagent99 | December 17, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

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