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    Youth Vote Rivals Largest in American History

    11/8/08 Update: The latest tallies show that approximately 23 million 18-29 year olds voted on Election Day 2008, the most young voters ever to cast a ballot in a presidential election and an increase of 3 million compared with 2004, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

    Turnout among young voters was up from 2004 to 52-53%, the highest level since 1972, making 2008 the third major election in a row where young people have increased their turnout!


    The tallies are in and young voters have proven their power at the polls.

    On November 4th, approximately 24 million 18-29 year olds cast ballots in this historic election, a turnout rate of 54.5%, up nearly 6 percentage points from 2004. This youth turnout figure is based on a turnout estimate from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), and overall turnout calculations from Professor Michael McDonald of George Mason University and results from the National Election Pool exit poll.

    Across the country, young voters’ turnout made a significant impact on close races in battleground states. In Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and other states, young people propelled Barack Obama to victory. Nationwide, 66% of 18-29 year olds voted for the President-Elect; state-by-state, this strong support made the difference in a number of contests.

    Yesterday’s record turnout marks the third major election in a row with increased young voter turnout. In 2004, the youth turnout rate was 49%, an increase of 9% points over the 2000 election; in 2006, young voters turnout went up by 3% points over 2002. On November 4th, 18-29 year olds’ turnout rate increased by nearly 6% points over 2004 levels, resulting in 4 million more young voters than in 2004.

    “Yesterday more young people voted than in any election since 18 year olds won the right to vote in 1972. This is truly a remarkable moment; young people have spoken and elected the next president,” said Heather Smith, executive director, Rock the Vote. “No longer can pundits and politicians say we don’t vote. The face of our democracy is forever changed and young people have shown the world we are taking our country into our own hands.”

    This year Rock the Vote ran the largest voter registration drive in history, using a combination of online, mobile and grassroots outreach resulting in more than 2.5 million individuals downloading a registration form.

    After registering a record number of voters, Rock the Vote ran an extensive get-out-the-vote effort, using popular culture and new technology to reach young people nationwide and mobilizing volunteers in key states. Our efforts on Election Day included:

    • Sending more than 100,000 mobile subscribers an Election Day text message reminder;
    • Phone-banking 13,300 young voters to remind them to get to the polls;
    • Accompanying Ohio State University students to the polls;
    • Providing shuttles to the polls in Blacksburg, Virginia and several other schools;
    • Helping protect young people’s votes at Drexel University; and
    • Dispelling inaccurate attempts to disenfranchise young voters through online and mobile messaging.

    On college campuses and in cities and communities across the country, Rock the Vote was on the ground yesterday supporting the 24 million young voters who cast a ballot yesterday. Visit www.rockthevote.com or more stories, videos and pictures from the field.

    “We’ll now take this incredible energy and momentum and demand action on the issues young people care about such as the economy, the war in Iraq, heath care, voting rights, and the environment,” Smith commented. “This is only the beginning.”

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    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    7 Responses to “Youth Vote Rivals Largest in American History”

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m so glad I got to be a part of history as an eighteen year old, first time voter. I really do believe it now when they say “you can make a difference”. I’ll never forget when I went to go give my name to get my voter card yesterday, the woman was so proud of me and congratulated me on making my voice heard! I’m really excited and anxious about the upcoming four years and I’m glad America made the right choice!

    2. Himbo says:

      Rock the Vote made it possible for me to vote. I posted a story about it on my blog: http://fantabuloushimbo.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-name-is-himbo-and-i-approve-this.html

      Thank you, Rock the Vote!

    3. Anonymous says:

      Rock the Vote almost prevented me from voting. The organization proved to be completely inept in New York City and then tried to blame it on the board of elections. Rock the Vote should be embarrased of their response to a problem that THEY actually created.

    4. Anonymous says:

      The question to be answered now is, what is next for our youth. Will their involvement persist or will it dissolve? What role will they play now? Will our 18 to 21 year olds in college create Rock The Vote Chapters on their college campuses and engage in both local and national politics on a daily basis? Will our 14 to 17 year olds create Rock The Vote Chapters on their high schools, in order to develop measures of interest to them, which they will appeal to their older peers to carry out for them through their votes? Will music, the net and all other tools of this dominant population continue to make significant impacts on history through our youth. Yes we did, so now we can, so again what is next for our youth? There are infinite possibilities, lets organize, lets get to work.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Sure 24 million youth voted, but it seems like most of them shouldn’t even be allowed to vote in the first place. Most of them don’t know anything about politics. They didn’t even know who Biden was before his debate. They don’t know of any policies, that either of the candidates presented. They don’t know their past experience. Obama does appeal to the younger crowd, so did Kerry…yet barely anyone knew what he stood for.

      I didn’t vote for McCain, even though it might appear like I did. But Obama was not my number 1 choice… if only Ron Paul was selected for the Rep. party. The Revolution would’ve come, the truth would’ve been told, and maybe people would realize that our govt. is nothing but talk and bullshit and neither of the candidates will be able to save this nation from what it became.

      Ron Paul 2012.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Ron Paul was my choice as well. I couldn’t vote for either Obama or McCain and say that I was making an educated choice. It’s sad that the more educated and learned you become about the political process and the candidates involved, the more jaded and cynical you become. For people to call either Obama or McCain the “right” choice is a joke. Anyone who says that is obviously is too naive, stupid, or young to know any better. One thing I did find interesting is how Proposition 8 was upheld in California of all places. For all the gay Obama supporters out there, unfortunately for you, the majority of black voters are church going, religious Obama supporters as well who think gays are deviants and evil. When you associate with any political party you make bedfellows with very different people.

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