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Young Voter Apathy

There's a disease affecting young voters. Its name? Apathy.

The 1972 election was the first time people 18 and over could vote. That year, 50% of 18- to 24-year-olds cast ballots, according to American Demographics magazine. But during the last presidential election, that number had fallen to a low of 32%.

"The chief reason that young voters give for not voting is that they think nobody is listening to them," said Jack Doppelt, author of Nonvoters : America's No-Shows and associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University. "And coupled with that, they don't think politicians come through on what they say."

That's why Doppelt and his co-author, Northwestern University professor Ellen Shearer, helped launch Yvote2000 (site no longer available). The site tries to get young adults involved in campaigns through polls and news. Yvote2000 also provides online voter registration.

Other sites are devoted to finding an antidote to young voter apathy, too. Rock the Vote was founded 10 years ago to fight censorship and promote First Amendment rights. Today it tries to get young people involved in civics by offering voter registration, discussion boards and activism links. MTV's Choose or Lose campaign (site no longer available) introduces the issues and covers the campaign from a youth perspective.




Project Vote Smart and canivote.org will help you register, get absentee ballots and contact your local board of elections.

Will these sites have an effect on the outcome of the election? Doppelt doesn't think so. "I think they're doing all they can, but young people in particular are not using the Internet for political connections," he said.

   --- M. Magnarelli



Note: Some links in this article are no longer available. We apologize for the inconvenience.

 
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