Secretary of State
Agencies Target Young Citizens to Vote in the General Election
(Frankfort, KY) With young adults seemingly less engaged with the political process, the Kentucky State Board of Elections and Secretary of State Trey Grayson have launched efforts to increase awareness of the upcoming election. The two campaigns are specifically targeted at young people who do not vote, in hopes of increasing the turnout among young people in the general election on November 7, 2006.
“We have to take new approaches at reaching young people,” remarked Secretary Grayson. “It is incumbent upon the leaders of our communities to get young people more engaged in their government. The obvious first step is to get them to vote.”
The Office of the Secretary of State kicked off their “Vote! 11.07.06” campaign at the 2006 state fair. The campaign featured wristbands with the campaign theme that were disbursed during the fair. The bands, similar to the trendy bands popular among young adults that benefit other causes such as Live Strong bands supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation, were one of the most popular items at the state fair.
That campaign furthered its efforts by tapping into the popular collegiate cyberspace site, www.facebook.com. The site, which is a social networking tool for college students, allows users to create groups for common affinities. The “Vote! 11.07.06” group was created with over a thousand students from across the country to encourage students to vote. The group includes a discussion board and has led to thousands of messages being sent to college students and young alumni encouraging them to vote either by absentee or on Election Day. The site also promotes the National Association of Secretaries of State newest web resource, www.canivote.org, that allows visitors to find voting information for all states.
The State Board of Elections also targeted younger citizens in their new voting poster campaign. The posters, which feature young people, have edgier tag lines such as, “It’s ok you don’t vote, we just won’t listen to you.” The posters have been an overwhelming success. Thousands of posters were distributed at the Kentucky State Fair and thousands have been sent to high schools, colleges, and universities across the state. The Office of the Secretary of State also partnered with the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities to register voters.
“Students have been incredibly receptive to the new campaigns. I am encouraged by the responses that we have gotten,” stated Grayson. “Some colleges and schools have had enormous voter registration drives. We hope that this excitement and engagement will continue through to Election Day.”
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement based at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy found that only 47% of young adults aged 18-24 voted in the 2004 presidential election. That was nearly twenty percent less than citizens 25 years and older. Historically, turnout during congressional mid-term elections such as this year’s election only see half of those 2004 young voters head to the polls to cast ballots.
“It is much easier to convince a young adult to vote in a presidential election than a mid-term or constitutional officer election. That increases the importance of new techniques to reach these young people. We have to catch their attention, and these efforts have certainly made them stop and think about the role they play in America’s political process,” concluded Grayson.
The Office of the Secretary of State under Secretary Grayson’s leadership has led the Civic Literacy Initiative of Kentucky, a multi-year strategy to increase the civic engagement and literacy of Kentucky’s citizens. The Office’s “Vote! 11.07.06” campaign is just one of many efforts of that initiative.
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Note: You can view/download images of the State Board of Election’s (SBE) posters at the SBE’s homepage at www.elect.ky.gov.
For more information about the Civic Literacy Initiative of Kentucky, visit http://www.sos.ky.gov/secdesk/initiatives/civics/clik/.