'Impressive' Young Voter Turnout Seen in Tuesday's Election

Photo: UC Berkeley students sported their
Daily Californian/Staff
UC Berkeley students sported their "I Voted" stickers on campus Tuesday. The election had an unusually high young voter turnout.

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Youth and the 2008 Election

On Election Day, students and Berkeley voters discuss why the youth vote has become such a presence in this election.

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Impressive Young Voter Turnout Seen in Tuesday's E...
American youth voted in unusually high numbers in ...

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As impromptu rallies commenced on college campuses across the nation, the power of the youth vote-whose potential is mentioned nearly every four years-appeared to finally materialize Tuesday.

Nationwide, roughly 24 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in Tuesday's election, according to an estimate from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

In Berkeley, polling locations near campus, such as the residence halls, saw steady streams of voters throughout the day. Poll workers noted a visibly increased youth turnout, said Guy Ashley, spokesperson for the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

On the heels of a record 9,425 students registered on campus prior to Election Day, at least 3,473 students cast their vote in five polling locations around campus on Tuesday, according to Kao Thao, coordinator for UC Berkeley's Vote Coalition.

According to Taylor Royle, a spokesperson for Rock the Vote, youth turnout increased 6 percent from the 2004 election, raising turnout for voters between 18 and 29 to an impressive 55 percent.

"I think the Obama campaign was the first to reach out to youth voters in such a significant way," Royle said. "But also this millennial generation in general is more active in politics and civic service than previous generation and are also very concerned about the economy. So there was a lot of motivation for them to go out and vote."

Drawing on their Election Day experiences at the polls, students believed the youth vote to be stronger and more significant this year than in years past. For many students, Sen. Barack Obama represented change and a break from the Bush administration.

Junior Teresa Deberry voted for the first time in this election and said she was impressed by the young voter turnout.

"There was a definitely a greater number of students voting than I've ever heard of in the past," she said. "It made me want to participate even more."

Beyond visible signs of high turnout, like long lines at polling places, students said the election atmosphere surrounding the campus was more contagious than it had been in the past.

"Everywhere you went, you saw students wearing 'I Voted' stickers and cheering each other on," Deberry said.

Some students attributed the increase to campus groups' get-out-the-vote efforts, while others believed the election's pressing issues to be the greatest motivation for young voters.

"I definitely think the youth turnout was higher than in the past," said senior Kyla Gibboney. "The state of the nation made (voting) seem personal and necessary for a lot of people."

Other students said word of mouth and other, less organized efforts to promote voting helped motivate young people to exercise their right to vote.

"There has been so much political discussion everywhere you go on campus," said junior Hemanth Ramesha. "This year it was finally cool to talk politics."


Contact Kelly Fitzpatrick at [email protected]

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