Talking About the Role of Young Voters

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Correction Appended

The technology, the media and President Barack Obama were all considered as possible motivators for youth involvement in politics by panelists yesterday in a forum sponsored by the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service.

The event, titled "Voting Today, Leading Tomorrow: Will Young Voters Change America?" was designed to provide students with different perspectives on the role and the significance of youth in political affairs, said Ethan Rarick, the center's director.

Author and blogger Mike Connery, Rock the Vote executive director Heather Smith, CNN Anchor Nicole Lapin, Facebook spokesperson Randi Zuckerberg and blogger Meghan McCain were panelists at the forum.

According to Rarick, the inspiration for the forum was the increase in youth voter registration and turnout last year.

"We thought in picking a topic to examine this year, we wanted to look at whether that big upsurge will continue, will young people continue to register in young numbers, and will they get involved in politics in other ways," Rarick said.

At the panel, technology was discussed as a major factor in encouraging youth to participate in political matters, especially in the 2008 election.

McCain, daughter of presidential candidate John McCain, said the Republican party would need to evolve to incorporate the Internet into its campaign strategy to appeal to younger voters. She said the party will not be able to attract the youth vote if it relies solely on television and radio, whose audience is usually the older generation.

"Those people are going to start dying-and then what are we going to do?" McCain said.

Other panelists claimed that Facebook had played a crucial role for the Democrats in Obama's campaign, fostering youth participation in politics.

"Working with Facebook and other technology, people were communicating and convincing each other to go to the polls," Smith said.

The event was also co-sponsored by the Berkeley College Republicans, Cal Berkeley Democrats and the Undergraduate Political Science Association.

David Felipe, president of the Undergraduate Political Science Association, said the forum enlightened him about the importance of keeping youth politically involved.

"As young people we should continue the process-continuing going out and kind of connecting with our peers about the political process," Felipe said.


Correction: Tuesday, April 28, 2009
An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the Robert T. Matsui Center.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Erika Oblea at [email protected]

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