New Voters Project: Results 2004-2010
In 2010, the Student PIRGs' New Voters Project trained thousands of student volunteers to make more than 190,000 get-out-the-vote reminders in the weeks leading up to the election on nearly 100 campuses in over 20 states.
These efforts paid off. According to election night returns, turnout at several student precincts targeted by the New Voters Project pointed to increases. While initial analysis released by CIRCLE points to a youth turnout rate similar to that in the 2006 mid-term elections, according to election night returns provided by elections officials on several campuses, turnout at several student precincts where we targeted young voters posted notable increases.
At Temple University's Ward 20, District 9 precinct, for instance, youth turnout increased 35 percent over 2006. Florida State University's Precinct 2503 saw a similar increase of 32 percent. At the University of Maryland - College Park, the Student PIRGs vote campaign helped to propel a 43 percent increase in turnout over 2006 at Precinct 021-017; and at the University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, similar efforts contributed to a 41 percent increase at the on-campus precinct.
Our What's Your Plan? Campaign helped inject young people and issues important to them in the spotlight early in the campaign season - more than 500 student volunteers in 28 states appeared at fundraisers, town hall meetings and stump speeches on the primary campaign trail or submitted a photo
petition to ask the candidates their plans on key youth issues such as global warming; health care; financial security; and college affordability. Ultimately, these volunteers talked directly
with the presidential candidates 106 times, helping to impress upon the campaigns the importance of paying attention to young voters this election cycle.
Campus young voter mobilization model integrated a host of tech tools - such as texting and Facebook - with tried and true brick and mortar grassroots organizing techniques. The effort thus reached young voters submerged in an increasingly wired world and also students unlikely to register due solely to online outreach. Our extensive on the ground young voter mobilizationefforts on one hundred campuses in twenty states helped register 118,000 young voters and established 440,000 personal voting reminders in the days before the election.
To ensure the rights of young people to vote once they arrived at the polls, our election protection program conducted aggressive outreach to local registrars to preempt Election Day problems. On Election Day we placed a network of poll-watchers atstudent precincts to identify and remove student voting barriers.
In the fall of 2006, the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project worked on 80 college campuses in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin to boost voter turnout. We forged alliances with student government leaders, faculty and administrators and recruited over 1,100 students to lead or volunteer on their campus.
Our coalition partners and student leaders helped register 75,000 students to vote. Leading up to Election Day, we made 94,000 personalized Get Out the Vote reminders either over the phone or face-to-face, including 50,000 contacts on Monday and Tuesday alone.
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the University of Maryland measured the turnout increase between 2002 and 2006 in student-dense precincts where we and other partners focused our efforts. The analysis focused on a set of 36 precincts in Ohio, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, and Michigan and found that average turnout in those precincts increased six times over 2002. Nationally, the increase in youth voter turnout was more than three percent (2 million votes).
The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project focused on youth voter registration and turnout efforts in eight states in 2005. We helped to register more than 18,000 voters and made more than 48,000 Get Out the Vote contacts. An analysis of raw data by CIRCLE looked at turnout in New Jersey and Virginia, the two states with major off-year elections. Their study indicates that young people voted in bigger numbers in the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia in 2005 than they did in 2001. The number of votes cast in precincts with a high concentration of college students increased by an average of 15 percent above the 2001 election in Virginia, and by an average of nearly 20 percent above the 2001 election in New Jersey.
In 2004, the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project succeeded in becoming the largest grassroots youth voter mobilization effort in this country's history. We registered 524,000 18-to-30 year-olds to vote, and contacted more than 500,000 young registered voters during the get-out-the-vote phase of the campaign.
Our model of voter registration and voter turnout utilized the Student PIRGs' time-tested and academically reviewed model of peer-to-peer outreach; we walked door-to-door in neighborhoods and dorms; made thousands of phone calls; and went into classrooms and community centers. Our work helped stop the decline in youth voter turnout. Surveys show that youth turnout (18-29 year olds) rose 9 points over 2000 turnout.
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