Building on the historic young voter turnout in the 2004 elections, The George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) today announced the winners of the first-ever national competition to support innovative nonpartisan strategies to register young voters ages 18 to 29.
Competition winners will register 350,000 young voters nationwide in 2006 through the $3 million project, coordinated by Young Voter Strategies and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. This announcement comes during Young Voter Month, the 35th anniversary of 18- to 20-year-olds winning the right to vote.
“The 2004 elections proved that if you ask them, they will vote,” said Heather Smith, Director of Young Voter Strategies at GW's Graduate School of Political Management. “Massive outreach efforts resulted in young voter turnout increasing 11 points over 2000 levels—the highest increase since 18 year olds won the right to vote 35 years ago. Young Voter Strategies' competition will build on that momentum in 2006 and refine youth outreach methods.”
Competition winners will each target different groups of young adults using strategic and innovative tactics:
After the elections, Young Voter Strategies and a team of university researchers will analyze each project to create a “Young Voter Toolkit” of best practices for mobilizing young voters. The toolkit will be a compilation of 2006 results and best practices learned from a decade of youth outreach. GW's Graduate School of Political Management will unveil the toolkit in a series of briefings for political consultants, campaign managers and party officials, and make it available to key decision makers, opinion leaders, and nonprofits as they build their strategies for the 2008 election.
“Generation Y is large, increasingly active, and up for grabs politically,” said Dr. Christopher Arterton, Dean of the Graduate School of Political Management. “Parties should take note—in today's evenly divided electorate, whoever wins over young voters today will win close elections in the short run and likely be the party in power in the long run.”
Young voter turnout in the 2004 election dramatically reversed a 30-year downward trend in youth electoral participation. In 2004, turnout among 18 to 24 year olds jumped eleven percentage points over 2000 levels, nearly three times the overall electorate's four point increase. In the 2005 Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections, student-dense precincts saw increased turnout of 15 percent and 19.9 percent, respectively, even as overall voter turnout went down in both states. Experts contend that the increased engagement of Generation Y and the youth-oriented outreach in 2004 are the significant reasons behind the increases in young people voting.
Generation Y is huge in number, not yet wed to one party or another, and increasingly politically active. Currently 71 million strong, Generation Y is on track to make up 25 percent of the population by 2016. Research from Harvard University found that young adults 18 to 29 years old identify themselves as approximately one-third Democrat, one-third Independent, and one-third Republican.
Competition Winners: Allegheny College Center for Political Participation, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Building Blocks, Building Votes, Center for Civic Participation, Close Up Foundation, League of Young Voters, Mobile Voter/Music for America, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (Black Youth Vote), National Council of La Raza, Redeem the Vote, the State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), and Women's Voices, Women Vote.
Young Voter Strategies, a project of the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, provides the public, parties, candidates, consultants and nonprofits with data on the youth vote and tools to effectively mobilize this electorate for upcoming elections. We are committed to making the targeting of young voters a more permanent part of electoral strategies.
The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University prepares students for participation in democratic politics, providing them with the critical thinking, knowledge, and skills necessary to succeed in professional careers in applied politics. The school also seeks to advance professionalism in politics by assisting the careers of its alumni, by generating knowledge in the field, by lauding appropriate professional conduct so as to promote ethics and professional standards, and by advancing awareness of democratic values and traditions of fair play.
For more information about Young Voter Strategies, visit www.youngvoterstrategies.org.
For more information about the Graduate School of Political Management, visit www.gspm.gwu.edu
For more news about GW, visit the GW News Center at www.gwnewscenter.org