Maryland PIRG New Voters Project Hits the Streets

By Jenny Levin
Public Health Advocate
The Maryland PIRG New Voters Project is a nonpartisan effort to help register young people and get them to the polls on Election Day. We believe the best way to get political leaders to pay attention to young people and our issues is to register and vote.

And, we believe democracy is strongest when citizens participate and for too long, young people haven't been full participants.The full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. Since the launch of the National Student Campaign for Voter Registration more than 25 years ago, the Student PIRGs have worked to mobilize young voters – spearheading massive registration and ‘get out the vote’ drives to turn millions of young people out to the polls.

Students-click here to join the Maryland Student Voter Coalition and help strengthen student voter rights. 

In large part due to this work and that of the larger youth vote movement, the youth vote is on the rise.

2004: Young voter turnout surged 9%, an increase three times that of the general population.
 The youth vote increased again, growing by 2 million votes.
The number of voters under 30 who showed up at the polls increased by approximately 11%, while the number of older voters who cast a ballot increased by only 3 percent.

A major reason for this increased turnout is that politicians are paying more attention to young people. If politicians ramp up their efforts to engage young people directly on issues important to us and talk to us as much as they do to older voters, then young people will continue to turn out in bigger numbers, ensuring a stronger democracy in the United States.

To continue this momentum in 2012, thousands of student volunteers with the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project will reach out to their peers on college campuses across the country to register them to vote and turn them out on Election Day. Nationally, we plan to run a non-partisan youth voter mobilization campaign on eighty college campuses in nineteen states to boost youth voter turnout in the 2012 elections.

There is a sizable and growing body of data that indicates that certain kinds of voter turnout techniques are quite effective at boosting youth voter turnout. A common thread that ties most of the studies together is the effectiveness of personalized, peer-to-peer voter turnout techniques. Young people are more likely to respond to an appeal to register or vote from a fellow young person, and respond most powerfully from a face-to-face encounter. 

Beginning in September 2012 through November 6, 2012, Maryland PIRG New Voters Project staff, student interns, and student volunteers will register more than 2,000 student voters in Maryland.

If you are a student and you want to get involved as an intern or volunteer, join the Maryland Student Voters Coalition and help strengthen the student voice today!

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