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Targeting Young Voters in November’s Election

Friday, October 6, 2000 at 2:11 PM

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Whether you vote this November may have more to do with your age than your views on the issues. The 18- to 24-year-old block has the lowest voter turnout of any age group. Different organizations are targeting young voters in the upcoming election in Cleveland. 90.3 WCPN's Cecil Hickman has the story.

Cecil Hickman- Amy Dreger is one of a group of twenty-somethings trying to do the seemingly impossible: motivate her generation to vote. She is the interim director of the education fund at the League of Women Voters of Cleveland.

Amy Dreger- I think young people...like many Americans, are turned off by politics. They’re very cynical, they think it’s shady or they just don’t trust it. We know young people cast their ballots less than any other group. The question is “why?”

CH- The interim director claims that the young are more likely to be involved in philanthropic causes than politics because they can see immediate results of their efforts. In the political arena, it may take years before they notice a return on their investment. Dreger believes there is an increased interest in the youth vote today, however, and notes that several organizations such as her own are making notable efforts to target young voters.

Christopher Van Deusen is the chairman of the Young Citizens’ League of Greater Cleveland. He says that young people’s lack of interest in politics may have to do with politicians not courting youth. Or, it may be that youth are not courting the politicians.

Christopher Van Deusen- It’s sort of like the chicken and egg syndrome. Do we vote first, and then do they pay attention to us, or do they pay attention to us, (try) and then try to get us to vote, and I think we need to vote first.

CH- Alex Gehring is the Vice-Chairperson of the College Republicans at John Carroll University and the director of Students for Bush. He says there are several reasons young people feel disenfranchised.

Alex Gehring- There are many reasons (young people are disenfranchised to vote), if you look at - historical trends going back to 1972, (how) the demographic of 18 to 24 year-olds (how they) have been voting less and less, and also (the candidates never) you never really see a concerted effort by the candidates to reach out to the younger people.

CH- Gehring believes his organization’s efforts to motivate young people in this election are succeeding.

AG- Yes, I do think they (the efforts) are working because we specifically reach out to students who have political beliefs but just don’t have a forum to discuss their beliefs.

CH- Dreger and Van Deusen believe that it is too soon to know the outcome of their efforts to get young people to take an active role in the political process. The League of Women Voters of Cleveland Educational Fund is aiming to register 5,000 18 to 24 year-olds by Ohio’s October 10th registration deadline. Tomorrow they will have a forum at the City Club which will encourage young people to motivate their peers to vote. Whatever the outcome of these individuals’ efforts, for Producer Michelle Bashian I’m Cecil Hickman, 90.3 WCPN, 90.3 FM.

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