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Youth in Politics to Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote, an organization dedicated to engaging youth in the political process, will hold the Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Forum in Boston, Mass. in an effort to encourage voting among America’s youth on Nov. 4.
The Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Forum will be held at Faneuil Hall in Boston and broadcast nationally on CNN at 7 p.m. EST.
According to Rock the Vote’s Executive Director Jehmu Greene, this forum allows voters ages 18 to 24 to address democratic candidates for the 2004 presidential election.
‘We are excited about kicking off our 2004 election season as we put the democratic presidential candidates to the test and put them in front of a group of young people, who will ask them the hard questions in a very unique forum,’ Greene said. ‘That will kick off what we think will be a very significant year for the youth vote, continuing to force the candidates and the media to pay attention to young people.’
The forum was announced last week in conjunction with an online voter registration contest called ‘Rock Your Way to Boston.’ The contest asked participants to register as many people to vote as possible before noon on Oct. 31 by using Rock the Vote’s online voter registration tool.
Greene said Rock the Vote joined forces with other Web sites in order to raise awareness about the forum in Boston and about the general importance of registering to vote.
‘Organizationally [we are] providing online voter registration in a much more significant way than we’ve seen before and partnering with a number of Web sites and media companies to make sure that online voter registration is everywhere young people are on the Internet,’ Greene said.
Rock the Vote was formed in 1990 in response to media advisory warnings on CDs, perceived by Rock the Vote’s founders as an attack on freedom of speech. Rock the Vote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that incorporates entertainment and youth culture into political awareness in order to promote voter registration among college-age citizens.
‘When 18-year-olds first got the right to vote in 1972, 50 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds were voting. In 2000 we saw only 36 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds turn out in the presidential election,’ Greene noted. ‘Our country is facing a serious situation with democratic participation across all age groups, but if we cannot convince our young citizens to participate in the process it’s going to be even harder to get them to join as they get older.’
According to Greene, it is essential to increase voter turnout for the 2004 presidential election.
‘[We are] really making sure that the youth vote plays a significant role and that young people’s issues are addressed by the candidates who want to be president for the next four years,’ Greene said. ‘This age group votes at lower levels than any other age group and increasing that level of participation [is important].’