Entries in Young Voters (7)


Massachusetts Teens Inch Closer to Lowering Voting Age to 17

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LOWELL, Mass.) -- When Carline Kirksey, 17, went knocking on doors around her hometown of Lowell, Mass., last summer, seeking support for a measure to lower the voting age, many of her neighbors were surprised to learn she wasn't just selling Girl Scout cookies.

Nowadays, Kirksey is walking the halls of the Massachusetts state house, lobbying lawmakers to allow her classmates to step into a voting booth and cast a ballot.

"We knocked on something like 3,000 doors," Kirksey said.  "Some people didn't like the idea of letting 17-year-olds vote, but we got a lot of people to change their minds."

Kirksey and her peers, organized by the United Teen Equality Center, may be on the verge of voting in municipal elections in Lowell.  If successful, they'll be the only 17-year-olds anywhere in the U.S. who can legally cast ballots in a government contest.

But success still could be a long way off.  The measure, backed by the Lowell city council, requires passage in the Massachusetts legislature, and then a referendum by city residents.  If passed, high school seniors will be allowed to vote only in Lowell municipal elections, not in state or federal sweepstakes.

Students in Lowell first started talking about changing the voting age two years ago, following cuts to school programs.  But they were motivated to turn that chatter into a movement when 18 out of 19 city council candidates said they'd support a change to the rules.

With local politicians on their side, including Mayor Patrick Murphy, the town brought the idea to the state legislature to receive a special "home rule" dispensation for the city.

The bill recently passed committee, but still needs a vote by the state's full house.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Republicans Target Young Voters with Obama Attack Ads

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans are targeting young people -- the heart of President Obama’s base -- with a new television spot aimed at college students and broadcast during the programs they like most.

The ad  “What’s Your Plan,” produced by the College Republicans National Committee and run in Iowa during reality shows, late night comedy programs and sportscasts, uses the president’s own words to play on the fears of young people about entering the workforce when unemployment is stubbornly high.

In the ad, a clip of the president saying “winning the future” plays repeatedly as several young people look straight-lipped into the camera.

“Bro,” says one young man, “you’re LOSING my future.”

President Obama received 61 percent of the youth vote in 2008, but the CRNC believes the weak economy has opened the door for the GOP to target young people.

“The climate is prime and we are the organization best positioned to make an impact on the youth vote,” Alex Schriver, national chairman of the CRNC, told ABC News.

Schriver said young people could be convinced to vote Republican because the “policies of the Obama administration disproportionately and in an adverse way affect young people.  We were sold on a message of hope and change, but now young people are without jobs and can’t afford to pay their bills.”

The ad cost $40,000 and appeared on cable news and broadcast channels in Ames, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Waterloo.  The ad was also on ESPN and Comedy Central.

CRNC, which is an independent organization and no longer a part of the Republican National Committee, has not endorsed a candidate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Progressive Youth Frustrated by President They Helped Elect

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After four years as the leader of the United States, President Obama may have a hard time convincing Americans, especially young voters, in the 2012 election that he still stands for "hope and change."

During the 2008 election,  Obama, the candidate inspired unprecedented numbers of people under the age of 30 to flock to the polls, almost doubling the youth voter turnout from the 2000 election.  But three years after that historic election, America's young people are less than inspired by Obama, the president. The fact that millions of those young fans who waved Obama signs in 2008 are now waving applications for unemployment is more than enough to take the bloom off the rose of the one-time "cool" candidate who can't seem to turn around a stagnant economy as president.

Students attending a liberal-minded Campus Progress Convention in Washington, D.C., said they were frustrated by the man they helped elect in 2008, but nevertheless intended to vote for him in 2012 because he is the lesser of two evils.

"Do I think that they are going to vote for him?  Yeah.  But are they going to be as energized?  Are they going to volunteer the long hours that they did in the '08 election?  I don't think so," said Diego Gutierrez, a student from California State University.

Former President Bill Clinton, who spoke to the conference's 1,000 students Wednesday, encouraged students to "turn truth into power" by educating themselves and other voters with "the facts."

Clinton said Republican governors are doing everything they can to keep the youth from voting in the next election.

"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow restrictions to voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today," he said.

Clinton cited, for example, a proposal in New Hampshire that would stop college students who attend school there but are from other states from voting in New Hampshire elections.

"Why is all of this going on?  It's not rocket science.  They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate," Clinton said.  "Are you fighting it?  You should be fighting."

Kathleen McQueeney, a senior at the New College of Florida, said the bad policies of her Republican governor have inspired her to get involved in politics.

McQueeney said Florida Gov. Rick Scott is taking away immigration and health care rights and slashing higher education budgets, making it harder for people to attend schools and decreasing the quality of education.

While she was inspired by Obama's message in 2008, she said it will be "extraordinarily difficult" for the president to keep the youth engaged in 2012.  She said that Obama "ran the best PR campaign ever" during the election, but fell flat after taking office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Job Approval Rises Among Young Voters 

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- President Obama’s job approval rating among an important voting bloc -- 18-to-29-year-olds -- has risen to 55 percent, a six-percentage-point uptick since last October, according to a poll released Thursday by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.

Among students at four-year colleges and young voters who turned out for Obama in large numbers in 2008, the president’s approval rating stands at 60 percent -- a nine-point increase over the past five months.

The results of the new survey were announced Wednesday by Trey Grayson, director of Harvard Institute of Politics located at the Kennedy School of Government, and the Institute’s polling director, John Della Volpe.

The young Americans were also asked whether they were more likely to vote for President Obama in 2012. Thirty-eight percent said they were, 25 percent said they planned to vote Republican and 36 percent were still undecided.

Of those surveyed, 59 percent voted for Obama in 2008 compared to 30 percent who voted for McCain and four percent who cast their ballot for another candidate.

Much like their older counterparts, the majority of 18-to-29-year-old voters -- 57 percent -- listed the economy as their top issue of concern, followed by health care (10 percent) and national security (6 percent).

And here’s a lesson for both Obama and the field of potential Republican presidential candidates: A plurality -- 27 percent -- of Millennials say Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online tools have “more of an impact” than in-person advocacy when it comes to politics.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


In Texas, Democrat Bill White Rallies on College Campuses

Photo Courtesy - Bill White for Texas(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Democrats are busy trying to get young voters out to help head off Republican gains Nov. 2, and the Texas gubernatorial race is no exception.

Hundreds of students and Austin Democrats gathered Wednesday in front of the University of Texas tower.  Longhorn Students for Bill White teamed up with the University Democrats Tuesday night to host “Bill White’s Rally to Restore Competence,” discussing issues ranging from education to Texas unemployment rates.  The rally kicked off with UT student government representative Jeremy Yager urging students to vote in the following two weeks.

“Let’s move Texas forward and finally restore competence to the governor’s mansion,” Yager said.

Student involvement isn’t new for the White gubernatorial campaign, which has set up more than 40 student-run Bill White groups across college campuses statewide.  It’s a more aggressive approach than that of Republican candidate Rick Perry, whose campaign contacted already established student conservative groups, such as the Young Conservatives of Texas.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, only 17 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds voted in the last Texas governor’s race in 2006, whereas 45 percent of people older than 30 years old voted.

Cameron Miculka, public relations representative for UT’s University Democrats group, says combating voting apathy on college campuses is the main focus this year.  Clubs use their own resources to pass out flyers, set up information tables, make phone calls and even go door-to-door.

“A vote from a student has just as much importance as anyone else,” Miculka said.  “When they see that a candidate is coming to their school to speak to them about education reform it really resonates, he isn’t just a face on television.”

Not everyone in the audience walked away convinced, however.

Kevin Cissell, a 20-year-old pre-med student, asked White a few questions after the rally concerning the future of higher education.  His main concern -- Texas cutting 25,000 students from the Texas (Towards Excellence, Access and Success) Grant.

“You cut grants that are helping people like myself, poor students who are trying to just go to college, that’s cutting opportunity for the future,” Cissell said.

Early voting in Texas began Monday and will continue until October 29th.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Obama Takes the Search for the Youth Vote to MTV 

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- Hoping to appeal to the MTV generation, those young voters who he’s fighting hard to bring out to the voting booths in November, President Obama will host a youth town hall special on MTV next week.

Dubbed “A Conversation with President Obama” the town hall on Oct. 14 will bring the president before 250 young people that MTV says is a “broad cross-section of backgrounds, interests and political viewpoints,” who will ask questions of the president and over Twitter.

The show will be hosted by MTV personality Sway Calloway, BET’s April Woodard, and CMT’s Katie Cook.

Facing a perceived enthusiasm gap, especially among young voters, the president has recently increased his appearances at events tailored to get out the vote and reawaken the movement that led in part to his 2008 presidential win.

On Sunday, the president will appear at another “Moving America Forward” rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with musical guests The Roots and next Tuesday he will participate in a “Commit to Vote” tele-town hall with the DNC to drum up young voters.

Next week’s events also come on the heels of President Obama’s rally in Madison, Wisconsin last week which drew 17,000 young voters.

There, the president argued that young voters need to come out in the polls to show they are not apathetic.

“if everybody who fought for change in 2008 shows up to vote in 2010, we will win.  We will win," he said. "The polls say the same thing. We will win."

And, what about the “youth vote” that Democrats were trying to re-inspire?  ABC News reports not so much.  Just 53% of 18-29 year old voters say they are certain to vote compared to 80 percent of those 65 years and older and 81 percent among those 50-64 years old.

Why does this matter to Democrats?   Walter reports, “Among younger voters, Obama’s approval rating is 58 percent; among the oldest group of voters it’s just 46 percent.  More important, when asked who they’d support in 2010, younger voters give Democrats an advantage (albeit a narrow one) of 51-47 percent.  Those 65 and older give Republicans a 51-44 percent advantage.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


President Obama Encourages Young Voters to Vote in November

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- On Monday, President Obama made a direct plea to young voters, urging them to re-engage in the political process and get out to the polls come November.

“Even though this may not be as exciting as a presidential election this is going to make a huge difference in terms of whether we’re going to be able to move our agenda forward over the next couple of years,” Obama said on a conference call with university journalists. “You can’t sit it out, you can’t suddenly just check in once every ten years or so on an exciting presidential election and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we’ve got a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans.”

The president admitted the enthusiasm that young voters showed during his campaign in 2008 has not carried over during his first two years in office.

“Back in 2008 a lot of young people got involved in my campaign… I think people just generally felt that we needed to bring about some fundamental change in how we operate, this was all before the financial crisis,” Obama explained. “I think a lot of people felt that our campaign gave them a vehicle to get engaged and involved in shaping the direction of this country over the long-term. I’ve been in office for two years. We’ve been in the midst of this big financial crisis. I’ve been having all these fights with the Republicans to make progress on a whole bunch of these issues and during that time, naturally, some of the excitement and enthusiasm started to drain away because people felt like ‘Gosh, you know, all I’m reading about are constant arguments in Washington.’”

The president’s comments offer a preview of what is to come at his rally tomorrow at the University of Wisconsin. “What I want to do is just to speak to young people directly and remind them of what I said during the campaign which is change is always hard in this country. It doesn’t happen overnight. You take two steps forward, you take one step back. This is a big complicated democracy. It’s contentious. It’s not always fun and games.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio