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Is this the year when young voters will make the difference?

ASK THIS | October 02, 2004

Political action on college campuses is at a high level; shouldn't you be reporting what's going on in the schools in your area, and who stands to gain by it?

By Rupal Doshi

Q. How does the level of student-run campaign activities today compare with that of the 2000 election? 1996?

Q. Voter registration drives are among the most visible activities on campuses these days. How successful are they? Are they drawing more new Democrats or more new Republicans?

Q. Is the sometimes fervent political activism an indication of higher voter turnout?

Q. Colleges are hosting a slew of influential political speakers. Who are the most popular, and how many colleges are they visiting? Geographically, where are they making the most stops?

Q. According to a recent GENEXT poll, if the election were held today, Ralph Nader would draw 6 percent of the youth vote. Nader has enthralled students for 40 years. He is concentrating much of his campaigning on colleges. Is he a factor in your area?

Q. Do students appear more conservative than in recent years, more liberal, or about the same, as far as you can determine?

College students around the nation are gearing up for what even many older people call the most important presidential election of their lives. Political activism on university campuses has manifested itself in many different forms, and the high level of political involvement is unmistakable. Led by the College Democrats, College Republicans, and other organizations, students are expressing themselves and spreading political awareness on college campuses everywhere.

Individual colleges generally have their own College Democrats and College Republicans chapters. In addition, some schools have nonpartisan organizations to register young voters. At Princeton, for example, the College Democrats and College Republicans have joined with the student government to create "Princeton Votes," a nonpartisan effort to register voters and "get-out-the-vote" on Election Day. On Sept. 13, Princeton Votes announced that it had registered more than 400 Princeton students and had ordered more than 100 absentee ballots.

This effort is not unique to Princeton. Democrats and Republicans alike are overseeing "storm the dorm" operations to register freshmen and hand-out absentee ballot applications. They are hosting voter-registration drives on campus with incentives such as free T-shirts for newly-registered students.

A visit to more than two dozen of their Web sites shows that the College Republican and College Democrat chapters are doing everything from campaigning in swing states to hosting debate-watching parties. They are phone-banking, organizing demonstrations, attending speeches and participating in many other activities organized by campus leaders. Each chapter defines its own agenda and activities, but the message is the same: political participation in this election is critical.

According to recent Gallup Poll results, 66% of 18- to 29-year-olds now say they have given quite a lot or some thought to this year's election, compared with 57% on election eve in 2000 and 60% in Gallup's 1996 final pre-election poll. Young voters show an increase in their intention to vote this November compared with 2000. In addition, Gallup polling from May through September has consistently shown young voters choosing Kerry over Bush.

For information about College Democrats of America, you can e-mail Director of Communications Lenore Cho

Or for more about college Republicans, contact Alison Aikele of the College Republicans National Committee.

Not all in college
Posted by Maurreen Skowran - The News & Observer
10/04/2004, 12:59 AM

It would be good to remember that many young people aren't in college. Campuses aren't the only places to find young voters.

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