Ensuring that young people vote on Election Day is a major priority for lawmakers and political organizations this year, after a record number of 18- to 29-year-olds headed to the polls in the presidential primaries this spring.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Student Association for Voter Empowerment Executive Director Matthew Segal and other influential leaders spoke last week at a discussion on Capitol Hill about getting young voters to the polls.
“There are 44 million eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29,” Hoyer said. “The youth vote can effectively sway the direction that this country is going in.”
Hoyer added that leaders need to “ensure that every eligible voter is facilitated, not only in registering but in getting to the polls, so that every vote counts.”
The panel discussed how some municipalities do not properly publicize their unique registration and absentee ballot requirements, which leaves many young adults unable to vote.
Segal, whose organization works to represent student voting rights issues, encouraged his fellow students to exercise their duty and right to vote.
“This year, show up on Election Day,” he said. “This is your responsibility. It is my responsibility. It is all of our responsibilities.”
More than 70 percent of young people say they are paying attention to the 2008 presidential campaign, which is about seven times the interest in 2000, according to a poll by Time magazine last spring.
The GW College Democrats and College Republicans said they have both seen significant membership increases this year and are taking extra measures to ensure that all members can and will vote in November.
Sophomore Matt Ingoglia, communications director of the GW College Democrats, said this has prompted the group to create a new executive board position called the assistant on-campus activism director, who is primarily charged with increasing voter registration on campus.
Junior Brandon Hines, public relations director of the College Republicans, said their voter registration efforts extend beyond the GW campus.
“When we canvass in Virginia and other states, we make sure that every John McCain supporter we meet has been registered,” Hines said.