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New technologies bring young Americans out to vote

13 February, 2008
By Allison Orr

While it appears that even after "Super Tuesday" the Democrats have no clear front-runner for presidential nominee, one thing has become clear - young voters are turning out in droves to vote at these elections, and many commentators are pointing to new technologies as the reason.

According to Circle (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement), participation by 17 to 29 year olds in the Iowa Presidential caucus is nearly triple what it was in 2000 and in New Hampshire, the youth turnout was 43%, up from 18% in 2004.  Furthermore, according to CNN’s exit polls, practically every state holding a primary or caucus on Super Tuesday, youth turnout increased significantly, in some states doubling or tripling the youth turnout in the 2000 and 2004 electoral seasons.

contests for which exit poll data are available, young people have constituted an average (median) of 14% of Democratic primary voters, up from a median of 9% in the set of comparable contests in 2004.

 

Young voters are overwhelmingly supporting Democrat candidates - Pew research shows that young people constituted an average of 14% of Democratic primary voters - and it is believed that savvy use of new technologies such as Facebook and MySpace, particularly by the Obama campaign, is the key to its appeal.  In California, Young Democrats worked to get young people out to vote using peer-to-peer phone banks, email camaigns, and utilsiing social networking websites to remind people about election day and to direct voters to their polling place.

Across the board, this was the largest national primary in US history.  YouTube hosted a Super Tuesday website for people to post videos, analysis, and political comment which, according to the CitizenTube Super Tuesday Recap, was "the most diverse and democratic coverage of the US primary process ever".

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