By Zack Sterkenberg
With the November 4th election only two weeks away, the Obama and McCain campaigns, along with other republican and democratic candidates running for local and state offices, are bolstering their efforts to sway voters, especially the youth.
“Vote Jam” 2008, a program organized by the Department of Mass Communications Mass Communications Seminar class, showcased many of the candidates running in the up-coming elections. It was a final effort to win over Bloomsburg University students, while enjoying live music, debates from University party representatives and guest speakers.
The keynote speaker of the night was New York Times and Business Day reporter Brian Stelter who came, not to endorse a candidate, but to applaud the youth voters who could play the most influential role in determining which candidate sits in the oval office come inauguration day.
“This is the first election in the last 12 years that I feel we need to vote, but it would be easy to just not vote this year because of how significant this election is,” said Stelter. “This is the kind of election that we are going to want to tell our children and grandchildren about, it’s that momentous.”
With the collapse of the world economy, the war in Iraq and energy issues, this election could be one for the history books, and this year the youth of America are tossing aside the “not voting” stereotype and not only the candidates, but the media are finally taking notice.
“This is the year of the youth vote, and I think that we (people ages 18-29) are going to surprise people this year,” stated Stelter. “The candidates are targeting younger votes by using a more technological approach. Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are playing a major role in this year’s elections.”
The candidates displayed their interest in the younger crop of voters on November 30, 2007 when CNN and YouTube teamed up to host the Republican Primaries Debate. Questions from concerned voters were downloaded directly from YouTube and then debated amongst the presidential hopefuls.
Newly registered voters have already demonstrated that this election is going to different, and that candidates need to pay attention to the issues facing high school and college students. This surge of new voters was evident at the exit polls taken during the presidential primaries when statistics showed that in 22 states three million virgin voters took to the polls.
“The media is finally waking up to the idea of the youth vote. Television shows like ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ are helping to familiarize the citizens too young to watch CNN, of the issues of today, and where the candidates stand on the issues.”
Whether it’s the local, state or the national elections this year, it’s imperative to get out to the polls on November 4th. The older generations, the media and the candidates finally acknowledge the youth’s influence in deciding who gets into office, and as Stelter said, “it’s up to us to show everyone that this is indeed the year of the youth.”
*This article also appears in the 10/23 issue of The Voice