Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Out the Youth Vote: What Works

CIRCLE, the leading source of information on youth voting, charts the recent uptick of youth voters (18-29) in the last two midterm elections. While still well below those 30 and over, it went up in 2002 and 2006 for the first time since 1982.

What’s making the difference? One is the greater effort by nonpartisan youth oriented voter mobilization campaigns. Another is a better sense of what works to encourage voting. Here are four tips ideas taken from their research:
  1. Personalized and interactive contact counts. The most effective way of getting a new voter – like any voter – is in-person contact by a peer. There is more evidence that the mobilization effect of a text message or social networking contact is an effective in-person contact from a peer, though actually in-person is still recommended.
  2. Begin with the basics. Telling a new voter where to vote, when to vote and how to use the voting machines increases turnout.
  3. In ethnic and immigrant communities, start young. The youngest voters in these communities are easier to reach, are more likely to speak English (cutting down translation costs), and are the most effective messengers within their communities.
  4. Initial mobilization produces repeat voters. If an individual has been motivated to get to the polls once, they are more likely to return. So, getting young people to vote early could be key to raising a new generation of voters.


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