Not since the 1972 presidential election have more young people
voted. Twenty-one million people ages 18 to 29 voted in
Tuesday’s elections, not including absentee ballots,
according to Holly Teresi of the Youth Vote Coalition. According to
unofficial election results from seven main polling locations on
campus, nearly 9,000 University students voted. Overall, 120
million people voted in the election.

“We had a great turnout, and I think that it showed how
important this election was to our generation,” said Pete
Woiwode, co-chair of the Michigan Student Assembly’s Voice
Your Vote Commission.

Voice Your Vote is a nonpartisan group that focuses on
registering new voters and promoting political participation on
campus.

“I am pleased with the turnout. I consider it a success
for the Voice Your Vote Commission and the campus as a
whole,” Woiwode said.

Since the 2000 election, the number of youth voters at the polls
increased by 4.6 million. The turnout rate rose from about 42
percent to 52 percent.

“I think a lot of students were concerned about who was
going to be the next president, which is unique. In years past it
hasn’t mattered so much which actual candidate won, so much
as which party was elected,” said Engineering freshman Sean
Murphy, who voted absentee in Massachusetts.

In some states, youth voters turned out just as much as older
voters in proportion to their population. In the 10 most contested
“battleground” states, youth turnout was 64 percent, up
13 percentage points from the 2000 election.

“Young people are definitely more interested than they
were four years ago. They’re more invested in their
community,” Teresi said.

She said young people have more concerns tied into the election,
for example the war in Iraq and how they plan to pay for
college.

The economy and the possibility of a draft were issues that
motivated LSA freshman George Thomas to vote.

“The issues that most concerned me were jobs, the war in
Iraq, tax cuts for the rich and a possible draft,” Thomas
said.

Other students, like LSA freshman Alyse Dunn, voted because of
controversial proposals on the ballot.

“I voted in Ohio. I was most concerned with the proposal
that would ban gay marriage,” Dunn said.

Ohio Issue 1, the proposal that bans same-sex marriage in the
state, passed with 62 percent of the vote. Exit polls show that
among voters ages 18 through 29, 51 percent voted ‘yes’
and 49 percent voted ‘no.’

More than 100 organizations in the Youth Vote Coalition devoted
their efforts to raising youth participation in the election.
Partners in the Coalition include MTV’s “Choose or
Lose,” Project Vote Smart, Speak Out, and World Wrestling
Entertainment’s “Smackdown Your Vote!” The
organizations had a goal of bringing 20 million youths out to the
polls.

The Youth Vote Coalition set up field sites in Ann Arbor and
East Lansing to help build local coalitions, which focused mainly
on door knocking and calling young voters.

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