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The Age of Apathy?

It’s no wonder America’s youth are sporting Urban Outfitters’ T-shirts featuring the slogan “Voting Is For Old People.”

Daniel Shea, the director of the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College, issued a report this week concluding that local party leaders simply aren’t doing enough to attract younger voters. [IMGCAP(1)]

The study, which was commissioned by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, found that of 805 local party heads, only 8 percent identified young people as the most important demographic for the “long term success of their party.”

And only 38 percent of those polled placed young voters within the top three demographics.

“It is disappointing that politicians and pundits regularly blame young people for not caring about politics, yet as the study indicates, local party leaders don’t seem to care about young voters,” said Ivan Frishberg, Outreach and Communications Coordinator of the New Voters Project, which is trying to mobilize voters to go to the polls this year.

Noted Frishberg: “It’s interesting to note that while local party leaders view young voters as a low priority, the national Democratic and Republican parties have committed to significant efforts to attract and retain young voters.”

Other recent studies have shown some positives. In a survey conducted in February, the Vanishing Voter Project found that 50 percent of adults ages 18 to 30 had read, seen or heard an election news story within the past 24 hours, compared to just 33 percent in 2000.

And an MTV poll last month found that 47 percent of young voters said they are 100 percent certain they will vote in 2004 — compared to only 37 percent who responded in the affirmative in 2000.

— Amy Keller

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