While the vote count in Ohio plays out, there is one fact that is not in dispute. The same percentage of eligible voters between 18-29 showed up to the polls yesterday as they did in the 2000 Presidential election.
Despite the fact that over $40 million was spent by the New Voters Project, Rock the Vote, MTV Choose or Lose, Declare Yourself, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, and Smack Down Your Vote, as well as the Democratic and Republican National Committee, the percentage of eligible voters between 18-29 in yesterday’s election remained at 17%.
However, the campaigns did increase the number of registered voters, as well as igniting meaningful discussion among America’s youth. What these organizations will have to do now is figure out how to leverage the increase in registered voters into actual votes at the polls.
One reason for this year’s turnout could be because the candidates were indistinguishable from one another.
“I don’t know. I just couldn’t make the decision,” said Ryan Keaton, guitarist for rock band Adelphi, who registered but did not turn up at the polls.
“I was considering Bush because I didn’t like Kerry’s approach, and I was considering Kerry because I didn’t like some of Bush’s ideas and decisions.”
Voting methodology may also have been a factor.
“Kids don’t like to stand in line,” said Matt Flyzik, singer for Underscore, who actually did vote in this year’s election – although he did so via absentee ballot since his band is currently on tour.
“I just turned 18, so I was really excited to vote this year. I noticed all the campaigning that was directed at me by the candidates, and by organizations like MTV’s Choose Or Lose.”
Flyzik also think that voting methods like electronic voting would appeal to younger voters. “Some ballots make it seem like you’re taking the SATs.”