While young voters turned out for the 2008 elections that catapulted Barack Obama on to victory, according to studies the number of young voters has since dropped. The decline in voting by Americans aged 18 to 29 has decreased drastically. According to research group CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), 51 percent of 18 to 19 year olds voted in 2008. Compare this to the 2010 Midterm elections when only 20.9 percent of young voters cast ballots.
The League of Young Voters Education Fund, a non-profit organization that works year-round to educate, inspire and activate young voters all over the country through grassroots and online initiatives, hopes to get those numbers back up by the next presidential election.
“The League is important because we engage and mobilize young people to stand up for themselves in the civic process. And we do it in a way that is authentic, cool and empowering to young people,” explains Robert “Biko” Baker, executive director of the League.
The League aims to empower young people nationwide to participate in the democratic process and create progressive political change on the local, state and national level – with a focus on non-college youth and youth from low-income communities and communities of color.
"In order for young potential voters to become interested in the political process, we need to see the tangible connection between politics and our everyday lives. It’s the same as anything in life. Once we are educated to understand why politics are important, we will be as engaged as we are in anything else," says former teacher and hip hop artist Dee-1, an official ambassador for the League.
Among the ways the League reaches out to young voters is through online initiatives, such as such as theirYoungVoterLive.com, Ustream chat series, and 99Problems.org blog. “Young people of all racial backgrounds are more likely to listen to music and or engage in social media,” Baker points out. “We meet young people where they are, in a language that is familiar and empowering.”