New Voters Project

Make Politicians Pay Attention to Us

The New Voters Project is a nonpartisan effort to help register young people and get them to the polls on Election Day. We believe the best way to get political leaders to pay attention to young people and our issues is to register and vote.

And, we believe democracy is strongest when citizens participate and for too long, young people haven't been full participants

Overview

For over 25 years the New Voters Project has played a leading role in mobilizing young voters; highlighting their importance; developing and refining the techniques and technology used to reach them; and ensuring their right to cast a ballot once they appear at the polls.

Just a few years ago, everyone had nearly written off the youth vote. Politicians focused their ads, speeches and campaigns around targeting older voters. Even the issues they were talking about had little to do with us - things like social security and prescription drugs. It's hardly surprising when you looked at the numbers. People over the age of 60 were voting at twice the rate of young people and the percentage of people under the age of 25 turning out to vote had declined steadily for decades.

The last few years have reversed this trend - the youth vote has increased and politicians have begun to pay more attention to young voters - but we've got to keep up the hard work to turn this trend into a lasting pattern.

2011 - 2012 Goals

We have two goals for 2012. First, we want to increase youth voter turnout in the communities where we are running the New Voters Project. Second, we want to continue to use our successes to show the political establishment that targeting young people works.

We'll be working with student leaders, student governments, faculty and administrators across the country to lay the groundwork for voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote work in 2012.

Background: 2007 and 2008 Successes

In 2008, young voter turnout across the country rose for the third time in as many presidential election cycles, according to a new analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). CIRCLE's analysis of raw turnout data found that the number of voters under 30 who showed up at the polls in 2008 increased by approximately 11 percent, while the number of older voters who cast a ballot increased by only 3 percent.

Increases in young voter turnout rates also surpassed those of older voters in the 2008 elections. Between 2004 and 2008, turnout rates among young voters rose, while those of older age groups remained steady or decreased.

Several factors - from increased attention paid to young voters by candidates to the proliferation of technology in the lives of young voters to a rise in civic engagement among young people - contributed to this surge in turnout. The youth vote surge since 2000 shows clearly that when you pay attention to young people, they will turn out.

Our 2008 Campaign

Our What's Your Plan? Campaign helped inject young people and issues important to them in the spotlight early in the campaign season - more than 500 student volunteers in 28 states appeared at fundraisers, town hall meetings and stump speeches on the primary campaign trail or submitted a photo

petition to ask the candidates their plans on key youth issues such as global warming; health care; financial security; and college affordability. Ultimately, these volunteers talked directly with the presidential candidates 106 times, helping to impress upon the campaigns the importance of paying attention to young voters this election cycle.

Campus young voter mobilization model integrated a host of tech tools - such as texting and Facebook - with tried and true brick and mortar grassroots organizing techniques. The effort thus reached young voters submerged in an increasingly wired world and also students unlikely to register due solely to online outreach. Our extensive on the ground young voter mobilization efforts on one hundred campuses in twenty states helped register 118,000 young voters and established 440,000 personal voting reminders in the days before the election.

To ensure the rights of young people to vote once they arrived at the polls, our election protection program conducted aggressive outreach to local registrars to preempt Election Day problems. On Election Day we placed a network of poll-watchers atstudent precincts to identify and remove student voting barriers.