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Young Voters: Nine Truths about the 2012 Presidential Election

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With the 2012 election just six weeks away, both the Republican and Democratic parties are seeking support from college students and other young voters. Although you may think otherwise, your vote truly can make a difference. Read on for more information about the upcoming presidential election…

2012 Election and Young Voters

Turn on the TV or visit your favorite website and you’ll see living proof that the media is rife with political advertisements full of mudslinging. It can be tempting to believe one side or the other without digging any deeper on your own, or simply deciding who to vote for just because your friends or parents are, too. You will still have to do your own research before making your decision, but here are 10 things to consider about the upcoming election:

1. Young adults’ votes are important. According to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, there are 46 million young people under the age of 30 who are eligible to vote in 2012. This equates to over 21% of the eligible voter population.

2. Democrats and Republicans both want your vote. According to Inside Higher Ed, voters under the age of 30 flipped Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina from Republican to Democratic in the 2008 presidential election. Nationwide, President Obama won by 34 points among young voters but polls show that Republicans are working hard to win over unsatisfied former Obama supporters.

The Omaha World Herald reports that delegates at the Democratic National Convention doubted that young voters would give up on Obama, but Representative Paul Ryan, Republican candidate for Vice President, made the statement “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life,” during his speech at the Republican National Convention.

3. Generation Y is on track to be one-third of the U.S. electorate by 2015. Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, is comprised of young adults born between the years 1982 and the late 1990s. It is the most diverse generation in U.S. history—61% of Millennials identify themselves as white; 18% identify as Hispanic; 14% identify as African-American; and 5% identify as Asian. (As a comparison, 81% of Americans over the age of 65 identify themselves as white.) By 2015, approximately 82 million U.S. citizens out of the total adult population of 225 million will be Millennials—or over 36% of U.S. citizens of voting age.

4. States with the highest percentage of eligible voters between 18 and 29:

  • Utah 27.8%
  • Washington, DC 26.2%
  • California 23.5%
  • Arkansas 23.2%
  • Texas 23.10%

5. States with the highest percentage of new eligible voters between 18 and 21:

  • Massachusetts 9.5%
  • California 9.0%
  • Utah 8.9%
  • New Jersey 8.8%
  • Nebraska 8.6%

6. Register to vote. In nearly all states, you can register to vote by mail with the National Mail Voter Registration Form. This national form also contains rules and regulations for each state and territory; contact your state election office for rules and regulations for your state or territory. The first ever National Registration Day is being held on September 25, 2012. Find a National Voter Registration Day event in your area here.

7. Once you register to vote … vote! Seventeen million eligible young voters are between the ages of 18 and 21 and 60% have some college experience. However, voter registration and participation is the key to getting college students and other eligible young Americans to actually vote. In 2008, just 87% of registered college student voters actually voted.

8. Know your state’s specific voter requirements. To vote in the 2012 presidential election on November 6, 2012, you must be a United States citizen. In most states, you must be 18 years old but some do allow 17-year-olds to vote. Residency requirements vary from state to state and even though you may live there for eight to nine months out of the year to go to school, college students are not considered permanent residents in some states. If that’s the case where you go to college, you may have to vote in your home state with an absentee ballot. Learn more at the United States Election Assistance Commission. (Your school will most likely have info for out-of-state students, too.)

If you’re being challenged or denied the right to vote in your college town, Rock the Vote recommends that you contact the National Campaign for Fair Elections, a nonpartisan organization that works with attorneys who can help voters experiencing voter difficulties.

9. Make sure you have the proper identification on Election Day. Voter identification has been a hot topic in many state legislatures and new controversial voter identification laws in some states prohibit the use of student IDs as proof of identification. Laws vary from state to state. Check the National Conference of State Legislatures for voter identification requirements in your state—you don’t want to be turned away at the polls.

Related Posts:

College Students’ Voting Rights Placed on the Table

College Students and Politics – From Apathy to Enthusiasm

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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