Voter project pushes for youth vote

In 2000, 18- to 25- year-olds made up 8 percent of voters, a group official said.

Tatum Fjerstad

With Election Day less than a month away and the Oct. 12 voter-registration deadline approaching, advertising, campaigns and debates aren’t alone in trying to grab students’ political attention.

Young Voter Project, a student group on campus, uses a community and residence-hall approach to get students excited about voting.

Charles McDonald, co-chairman and campus organizer of the community program at the Young Voter Project, and his volunteers are scouring sidewalks to approach students.

They said that although it is important whom students vote for, it’s more important that they vote, period.

“We don’t vote, and as a result, our voice isn’t heard,” McDonald said.

In the 2000 elections, 18-to 25-year-olds made up 8 percent of the voters, he said.

“If we truly want to inherit this country, we need to get involved in the political process,” he said.

Young Voter Project, a component of 21st Century Democrats, uses young volunteers to inspire political discussions about voting.

Volunteers meet Monday through Friday at Coffman Union to scour campus in what they call “VoteMob,” or voter mobilization.

They canvass campus to talk to students about the importance of voting, encouraging them to register to vote and sign a pledge promising to vote Nov. 2.

The pledge has a section asking students which issue is most important to them in the upcoming election.

Most students said that the important issues are the cost of college or the situation in Iraq, McDonald said.

Joel Flake, executive officer of Students for Family Values, said he was disappointed with the issues available on the pledge.

“I was put off by the fact that they have nothing about morality,” he said. “There are a lot of conservative Democrats out there, and they are shutting out a lot of people by not touching on morality.”

After students pledge to vote, project members keep in contact with them, reminding them of polling places while encouraging them to vote.

“Making the decision to not be involved in politics is a political decision,” McDonald said.

Erin Kohl, co-chairwoman and campus organizer of the residence hall program at the Young Voter Project, said she has volunteers who live in residence halls and talk to students about the importance of voting.

“We are engaging neighbors in political conversation and using the pledge as a tool in the conversation,” Kohl said.