Youth Vote: The Power of Registration

Each election cycle brings with it the promise of increased citizen participation, especially among eligible voters aged 18-24. This election cycle is no different. But unlike year's past, the internet will play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the election, especially amongst the aforementioned age group. Perhaps the most blatant example of the Internet's influence is a single link Google added to their homepage; the link reads "Sign up to vote in your state. Get registered today!"

Clicking the link takes you to a specialized Google Maps page that asks for your legal place of residence. Upon submitting your address, Google presents an assortment of links regarding registration deadlines, absentee requests, and other voting information specific to your state; it couldn't be easier. This simple link will alter the election, here's why.

Anybody between the age of 18 and 24 visits Google at least once a day. Many people in this age group have the intention of voting, but are simply unaware of the requirements for registration. This link may provide the needed incentive. Let's take a look at how registration effects voting in this age group. I've compiled a graph of historical registration data and voter turnout for the youth demographic, aged 18-24. The graph below shows the percentage of registered voters and the percent of actual voters in the eligible population: Youth Vote (1972-2004): Registered vs. Voted

Source: U.S. Census Bureau [.xls]

As I'm sure you can tell, not everybody who is registered actually votes. The average vote per registration ratio amongst voters aged 18-24 is approximately .78, or for every 100 registered voters, 78 actually go to the polls. This ratio is almost ten points lower than the the national average and presents an interesting question: why is the youth demographic so heavily targeted? The answer is simple, they tend to vote Democratic. The graph below illustrates who they voted for in the past four presidential elections as data prior to the 1992 election groups the 18-24 age group into a larger 18-29 group; the trend however, still seems to hold: Youth Vote (1992-2004): Who Youth Vote For

Source: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research

In the past four election cycles the youth vote has been divided, on average, 51% to the Democratic candidate, and 39.5% to the Republican candidate, with the remaining votes cast for other parties. What does this all mean? Any registered voter aged 18-24 has a statistical probability of voting for the Democratic candidate 39.8% of the time, and only a 30.8% chance of voting Republican. The votes unaccounted for are either cast for another party, or not cast at all. This means that for every 100 registered voters aged 18-24, the Democrats accrue a 9 vote advantage. Apply this to a larger scale, such as the Google link, and the participation of the youth demographic could easily swing the election in the Democrat's favor.

Published on October 2nd at 2:12 PM CT :: 11 Comments

Youth Vote: The Draft in Your Future?

This will be the first installment in the Youth Vote series.

On July 7, 1971 the twenty-sixth amendment was certified by the Administrator of General Services granting anybody aged eighteen or older the right to vote. The amendment was proposed by Senator Jennings Randolph (D) of West Virginia in response to procedures within the Selective Service Draft of 1969. Anybody aged eighteen or older could be drafted and fight America's War, but they could not vote. The amendment was ratified by thirty-nine states (eventually forty-two) making Randolph's amendment law.

The 1972 Presidential Election marked the first and largest participation by voters aged 18-24 in history. Youth participation has declined since, but US involvement in foreign war seems to peek youth interest; the reason, conscription or the draft. Below is a graph detailing youth participation in past presidential elections:

Source: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement

With the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the possibility of conscription remains. The most recent attempt (or perhaps more correctly, bluff) to reinstate the military draft occurred in 2003 when Representative Charles Rangle (D) of New York proposed House Resolution 163, this version offered no deferments of any kind once over the age of twenty. The bill was never written for serious consideration but rather as a protest to the currently ongoing war. Rangel issued another similar resolution in 2007 (HR 393) that called upon "all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service." Representative Rangel issued the follow statements on the introduction of HR 393:

"I don't expect my bill to pass; my purpose in introducing this legislation is for it to serve as a constant reminder that we have lost 2,200 of the best, brightest and bravest Americans, have had thousands more maimed, and countless Iraqi citizens killed. As the President speaks of a national response involving the military option, military service should be a shared sacrifice. Right now the only people being asked to sacrifice in any way are those men and women who with limited options chose military service and now find themselves in harm's way in Iraq. A draft would ensure that every economic group would have to do their share, and not allow some to stay behind while other people's children do the fighting."

"The Republican Leadership responded to my first bill by procedurally preventing debate on the issues it raised; let us see how they try to avoid facing the question of shared sacrifice this time."


The Republican leadership has remained passive on conscription dating back to Nixon. In the 1968 Election Nixon promised to eliminate the draft, he did just the opposite. The lottery occurred days before his inauguration and the draft was extended two years to 1973 during his first term. After Vietnam ended the draft died. Today the Selective Service System remains in the event "the country should need it." The SSS has procedures in place if the draft where needed today.

Why does any of this matter? Simple, watch this video of John McCain:

While John McCain agrees with the establishment a of draft, Barack Obama is committed to ending the war in Iraq.

With the upcoming election between Barack Obama and John McCain the draft appears to be on the table. If you are between the age of 18-26 a draft will effect you. Make your voice heard by voting. Register to vote, and request an absentee ballot (Google Absentee Ballot and find your state's page) if you attend an out of state college or will not be able to vote in your legal state of residence.

Look for the presidential debate on September 26th to have at least one question pertaining to a draft. The facts show that when military service is an issue the youth vote shows up.

Published on September 21st at 5:07 PM CT :: 4 Comments

Kids Vote for a Cause, Not Against

After Mark Warner's (Democrat, Virginia) speech at the Democratic Convention last night, the headline on any number of news sites was something along the lines of this: "Warner pushes for bipartisanship rather than crushing McCain," a true sentiment, but unrepresentative of Warner's message. I went through and read many of these articles but none of them seemed to comprehend Warner's purpose; it's simple really, he understands that kids will not go out and vote for the lesser of two evils, as many people do, but rather they are motivated in favor of a candidate's cause. In his speech Warner empathized with the plight of America's youth while calling upon others to support a future without bounds. Warner's speech embodied the message of Obama's campaign.

Many Democrats are pushing for a harsher message against McCain in light of previous elections, but that simply will not happen on Obama's watch. Obama's youth centric, optimistic message carried him through the primaries and a departure from this stance would be a fatal move; but the campaign understands this. The 3AM text message is perhaps the most obvious example highlighting their understanding of the youth demographic. The aurora of the convention also supports this claim; they are telling kids why they should support their view on the future, rather then why they should not support John McCain's. So far there has been no negativity amongst the prime time speakers, and I expect this trend to continue through Thursday. The media will be upset, some party loyalists will be upset, but the overwhelming message to take from the convention will be an optimistic outlook on the future; a calling card for the youth vote.

Kids don't want to deal with the bullshit that is negative campaigning, they are smart enough to figure out who to vote for based on the information rather than the propaganda. During this week's convention, the Democrats are exposing their ideas to young minds, while setting aside next week, during the GOP convention, to go negative without the media fan fair. In highlighting their message this week, Obama and the Democratic Party are laying their hopes on the youth of the nation, and in turn hoping the youth will support their hope for the nation.

Published on August 27th at 3:42 PM CT :: 0 Comments

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