Christian Science Monitor
from The Christian Science Monitor, June 23, 2003 - http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0623/p09s02-coop.html

The dwindling youth vote: Where will it be in 2004?

By Robert Weiner and Amy Rieth

      WASHINGTON - Plain and simple: Young people don't vote in the numbers they used to. When 18-year-olds were granted the right to vote in 1972, the turnout of 18- to 24-year-old voters was a healthy 52 percent. But it dropped steadily to 38 percent in 2000.

      Why are young people - critical to our nation's future - voting in drastically lower numbers? How can we bring them back?

      The primary issue at stake in 1972 was the Vietnam War. The government didn't make the case that the war was necessary. America's youth realized that they were the ones that would be killed, maimed, or threatened in the jungle overseas. To them, voting and political activism were matters of life and death, of war and peace.

      Youth don't see such a real threat today, given the much smaller American losses of the Iraq wars (100 in each Iraq war versus 57,000 in Vietnam), the hyperbole the government repeatedly used for the current war, and the fact that service is now voluntary. So youth don't consider voting as important as they once did.

      But there are real, potent, and persuasive issues that, if the message gets out, young people could, should, and would care about.

      Joblessness is at a nine-year high of 6.1 percent. Youth look forward to graduation from high school and college, only to be thrown into the "real world" and smacked in the face with meager employment opportunities. An ABC News headline in May screamed, "With No Jobs, 60% of Class of 2003 Moving Back With Parents." Not realizing the importance of national decisions affecting the economy, including the deficit, productivity, and whom tax cuts target, young people did not vote.

      Fewer and fewer people - especially people with low-paying or no jobs - can afford healthcare. Two million more people are uninsured now than two years ago, and a growing share of those uninsured are young people. Youth generally feel great and see themselves as invincible. But do they care about their parents? Their grandparents? Sick friends? We know they do; regular conversations with parents are responsible for a 30 percent decrease in drug use according to a Columbia University study. Let's convert this sense of responsibility to the polls.

      Do young people really want to be excluded from decisions about our planet's environmental future - regarding toxic waste, air pollution, water pollution, and global warming - by leaving those decisions to adults and corporations? Do they want others to decide the limits of their freedom on the Internet?

      And where are the political parties in all of this? They haven't put enough effort into reenergizing the youth vote. Compared with political-party involvement in 1972, today's parties don't seem tocare. They need to revert to strategies used by parties in 1972: news conferences, a national voter-registration drive, and TV and radio spots.

      The Democratic National Committee in 1972 enlisted now-famous presidential speech analyst and political commentator Kathleen Hall Jamieson and her students at the University of Maryland to produce and distribute powerful voter registration spots to 4,000 radio stations and 1,000 TV stations. Both parties and nonpartisan groups like Common Cause, Youth Citizenship Fund, and others - with whom the party youth apparatuses worked closely - set up youth-voter-registration organizations in every state and regularly had forums, debates, workshops, and news events across the country urging youth to vote. The record turnout of youth in 1972 was no accident; it was the result of hard work in publicizing meaningful issues.

      And candidates need to figure out how to connect with young people, whether reaching out to them on campuses or pioneering interviews on youth-oriented media. The only uptick in the youth vote since 1972 was when 48 percent of eligible youth turned out in 1992 after candidate Bill Clinton played the sax on MTV.

      Americans are told every vote counts, and the 2000 presidential election reinforced this notion. Voting is a right that has been fought for and defended, and a democracy can exist only when citizens are willing to take part in their government. Everyone has a voice - the only way to influence the way our country is run in the long term is for young people to express theirs. Adults have a responsibility to make that happen.

      Robert Weiner, a political consultant, was director of youth-voter registration for National Young Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign and a public-affairs director in the Clinton White House. Amy Rieth is a member of Young Republicans at North Carolina State University.


C-Span

Broadcast on C-SPAN Washington Journal, June 23, 2003, at 7:00 am

      In the op-ed section of the Christian Science Monitor this morning: The dwindling youth vote -- Where will it be in 2004. This is by Robert Weiner and Amy Rieth.

      I want to take the argument the two authors are writing about getting young people to vote this morning and ask you your opinion and thoughts on how do you get young people to vote.

      We've divided the lines this morning by political party so we're interested in your thoughts again, we want to ask you this morning, how do you get young people to vote and if you would, just please choose a line that best represents you, and get ready to give your opinions when we come to you. We'll take those calls momentarily.

      How do you get young people to vote in 2004? That is the question we are posing this morning and this is based from an opinion piece this morning and you can find it in the Christian Science Monitor by Robert Weiner and Amy Rieth. The first call is Owings Mills, Maryland. Good morning on our line for democrats.

      Caller: Good morning. I have two points to make on how to get young people to vote. Number one, we should get rid of the Electoral College because it seems to me the people's vote doesn't count. Ultimately, it is the votes of the Electoral College that have a major deciding factor. Also, the second point I'd like to make is the travesty that happened in the election of 2000 has got to stop. I mean, we cannot have elections stolen like we had in 2000. Young people see that and they think, well, what's the point in voting anyway when the powers that be are just going to choose who they want. My vote is wasted, so I might as well not go out and vote. The article kind of makes the case that a lot of people aren't ...

      (program coninues for 45 minutes discussing op-ed).


The Dwindling Youth Vote
by ROBERT WEINER & AMY RIETH
in The Modesto Bee
Published: June 22, 2003, 03:21:00 PM PDT
From The Christian Science Monitor

      WASHINGTON (CSM) - Plain and simple: Young people don't vote in the numbers they used to. When 18-year-olds were granted the right to vote in 1972, the turnout of 18- to 24-year-old voters was a healthy 52 percent. But it dropped steadily to 38 percent in 2000.

      Why are young people - critical to our nation's future - voting in drastically lower numbers? How can we bring them back?

      The primary issue at stake in 1972 was the Vietnam War. The government didn't make the case that the war was necessary. America's youth realized that they were the ones that would be killed, maimed or threatened in the jungle overseas. To them, voting and political activism were matters of life and death, of war and peace.

      Youth don't see such a real threat today, given the much smaller American losses of the Iraq wars (100 in each Iraq war versus 57,000 in Vietnam), the hyperbole the government repeatedly used for the current war, and the fact that service is now voluntary. So youth don't consider voting as important as they once did.

      But there are real, potent and persuasive issues that, if the message gets out, young people could, should, and would care about.

      Joblessness is at a nine-year high of 6.1 percent. Youth look forward to graduation from high school and college, only to be thrown into the "real world" and smacked in the face with meager employment opportunities. An ABC News headline in May screamed, "With No Jobs, 60% of Class of 2003 Moving Back With Parents." Not realizing the importance of national decisions affecting the economy, including the deficit, productivity and whom tax cuts target, young people did not vote.

      Fewer and fewer people - especially people with low-paying or no jobs - can afford health care. Two million more people are uninsured now than two years ago, and a growing share of those uninsured are young people. Youth generally feel great and see themselves as invincible. But do they care about their parents? Their grandparents? Sick friends? We know they do; regular conversations with parents are responsible for a 30 percent decrease in drug use according to a Columbia University study. Let's convert this sense of responsibility to the polls.

      Do young people really want to be excluded from decisions about our planet's environmental future - regarding toxic waste, air pollution, water pollution and global warming - by leaving those decisions to adults and corporations? Do they want others to decide the limits of their freedom on the Internet?

      And where are the political parties in all of this? They haven't put enough effort into re-energizing the youth vote. Compared with political-party involvement in 1972, today's parties don't seem to care. They need to revert to strategies used by parties in 1972: news conferences, a national voter-registration drive, and TV and radio spots.

      The Democratic National Committee in 1972 enlisted now-famous presidential speech analyst and political commentator Kathleen Hall Jamieson and her students at the University of Maryland to produce and distribute powerful voter registration spots to 4,000 radio stations and 1,000 TV stations. Both parties and nonpartisan groups like Common Cause, Youth Citizenship Fund, and others - with whom the party youth apparatuses worked closely - set up youth-voter-registration organizations in every state and regularly had forums, debates, workshops and news events across the country urging youth to vote. The record turnout of youth in 1972 was no accident; it was the result of hard work in publicizing meaningful issues.

      And candidates need to figure out how to connect with young people, whether reaching out to them on campuses or pioneering interviews on youth-oriented media. The only uptick in the youth vote since 1972 was when 48 percent of eligible youth turned out in 1992 after candidate Bill Clinton played the sax on MTV.

      Americans are told every vote counts, and the 2000 presidential election reinforced this notion. Voting is a right that has been fought for and defended, and a democracy can exist only when citizens are willing to take part in their government. Everyone has a voice - the only way to influence the way our country is run in the long term is for young people to express theirs. Adults have a responsibility to make that happen.


      Robert Weiner, a political consultant, was director of youth-voter registration for National Young Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign and a public-affairs director in the Clinton White House. Amy Rieth is a member of Young Republicans at North Carolina State University.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:      CONTACT: Robert Weiner/Amy Rieth 
Monday, June 23, 2003       301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700
PARTIES URGED TO INCREASE YOUTH VOTE EFFORTS;
1972's RECORD TURNOUT USED AS MODEL

      (Washington, DC) - In a column in today's Christian Science Monitor, Robert Weiner, the 1971-72 youth voter registration director for the National Young Democrats at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and congressional and Clinton White House staff member, along with Amy Rieth, a North Carolina State University Young Republican and sophomore communications major, called for both political Parties to put more effort into re-energizing the youth vote, using the record turnout and intense Party outreach efforts of 1972 as a model.

      Statistics show a 52 percent turnout rate among young people in 1972, when eighteen year-olds first voted under the newly passed 26th Amendment to the Constitution, and a more or less steady drop to 38 percent in 2000, the two pointed out.

      Weiner and Rieth stated, "Plain and simple: Young People don't vote in the numbers they used to. There are issues, real, potent, and persuasive, that, if the message gets out, young people could, should, and would care about." Weiner and Rieth asserted that the Parties need to bring these key issues of concern to youth to the forefront to draw more young people to the polls. Among these are joblessness (currently the highest it has been in nine years, with three million fewer jobs in the last two years, and 60% of 2003 graduates moving back home with no jobs), healthcare (two million more people are uninsured than two years ago, reflecting more and more young people), the environment (toxic waste, air pollution, water pollution, global warming), and freedom on the Internet.

      Weiner and Rieth stated, "The primary issue in 1972 was the Vietnam War. The government did not make the case that the war was necessary. America's youth realized that they were the ones that would be killed. Voting and political activism were matters of life and death. Youth do not see such a real threat today, given the much smaller American losses of the Iraq wars (100 in each versus 57,000 in Vietnam), the hyperbole the government repeatedly used for the current war, and the fact that service is now voluntary."

      The bipartisan pair called for a return to strategies used by parties for the 1972 Presidential election, when youth turnout was at its highest - news conferences, a national voter registration drive, and thousands of TV and radio spots on why more young people should vote. The Young Democrats and Young Republicans - the parties' youth arms - set up youth voter registration organizations in every state and most congressional districts and coordinated with sponsors like Warner Brothers to design and distribute thousands of posters. Both the YD's and YR's, nonpartisan groups like Common Cause, Youth Citizenship Fund, and charismatic leaders including Congressmen John Lewis and Al Lowenstein, National YD President David Sternoff, and New York City Mayor John Lindsay arranged forums, debates, workshops, and news events constantly across the country urging youth to vote, Weiner, who coordinated the Democrats' 1972 efforts, explained.

      Weiner and Rieth asserted that "candidates need to figure out how to connect on a young person's level, whether reaching out to youth on campuses or pioneering interviews on youth oriented media." They pointed out that the only spike in the youth vote, to 48% in 1992, occurred with former President Clinton's strategies of going on MTV and playing the saxophone on Arsenio Hall.

      Source: Robert Weiner Associates (301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700)