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Election Focus 2004

The Mobilization of Young Voters:The Role of NGO’s and Other Groups

It is estimated that the youth vote in the United States includes 30 million 18-to-30-year-olds throughout the country. However, despite their large numbers, young voters accounted for less than 4 percent of the entire voting population in the 2000 elections. Mindful of the untapped potential of young voters, a number of non-governmental organizations and political groups are working actively to encourage their civic participation.

Many of these organizations define themselves as non-partisan, that is, not belonging to or supporting any political party. Others, however, may promote a particular political agenda. Following is a sample of the more prominent organizations that seek to mobilize young voters.

Declare Yourself
Declare Yourself is a national non-partisan, non-profit campaign to mobilize young voters to participate in the 2004 presidential election. Declare Yourself is sponsoring a live spoken word and music tour of college campuses; a nationwide voter education initiative for high school seniors; a comprehensive election information Web site; an extensive online awareness campaign; a massive voter registration drive; a televised “get out the vote” concert; and public service announcements.

The New Voters Project
The New Voters Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to
increasing voter turnout among citizens age 18-24 on Election Day 2004. The Project’s goal is to register more than 265,000 voters on college campuses and other youth venues. It is concentrating its efforts on six U.S. states — Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Nevada — states that have high concentrations of young voters in small geographic areas.

The College Republican National Committee
The College Republican National Committee is the nationwide coordinating organization for the Republican youth movement. With over 120,000 members on 1,148 college campuses, the Committee works for the election of Republican candidates and the communication of a conservative message to college students.

Young Democrats of America
The Young Democrats of America is the official youth arm of the Democratic Party and is open to anyone under the age of 36 who affiliates themselves with the Democratic Party. The 43,000 members of the association include high school students, college students, young workers, professionals and families.

Smackdown Your Vote
Founded in July 2000, Smackdown Your Vote! is a non-partisan effort to involve young people in the political process and to promote youth voter registration. Smackdown Your Vote! is a collaboration between World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (formerly the World Wrestling Federation) and several non-profit, non-partisan organizations that seek to mobalize 18-to-30-year-old voters.

Campaign for Young Voters
Campaign for Young Voters is a nonpartisan, non-profit effort to engage young voters by working with political candidates and campaign staff, political party officials, political consultants, and grassroots organizations on how to understand, communicate with and turn out younger voters on Election Day.

Youth Vote Coalition
The Youth Vote Coalition is a national, non-partisan coalition dedicated to increasing political and civic participation among young people; building an inclusive, accountable, and responsive government; and increasing public awareness about the value of participation in democracy through the electoral process.