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Secretary of State Ken Bennett, House Majority Leader John McComish and Senate Assistant Minority Leader Rebecca Rios joined today with members of the Arizona Student Vote Coalition in a non-partisan effort to urge Arizona young people to register and vote in the upcoming primary and general elections.
The state and student leaders announced their involvement at a press conference that served to kickoff the Arizona Student Vote Coalition's efforts between now and the General Election.
"Getting more young people to vote now will result in a more active citizenry in the future," said Secretary of State Bennett. "I am pleased to work with the Arizona Student Vote Coalition to encourage young people to register and vote."
Elma Delic, Arizona Students' Association (ASA) Board Chair and a U of A student said that in 2008, youth voter turnout increased by two percentage points while that of older Americans remained constant or decreased. Said Delic, "Young voters are a big and growing portion of the electorate and, as such, have the potential to make big impacts on issues we care about - such as college affordability, financial security and health care."
Surveys indicate that young people don't vote, among other reasons, because they aren't registered, don't have enough information or feel that they don't have enough time or that their vote doesn't matter. The Arizona Student Vote Coalition is working in non-partisan fashion to combat those reasons and improve student participation in our electoral process.
"The problems elected leaders tackle today have a direct impact on young people and their future," said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Rios. "Through casting a ballot and getting involved, young people can make their voice heard and be a driving force towards solutions to some of our state's pressing problems."
To increase youth voter registration and improve turnout, the coalition will utilize proven strategies to reach prospective voters, including phone banks, text messaging, door-to-door canvassing and an online registration campaign. "After Election Day, we will parlay the leaders identified and trained through our voter mobilization drive into numerous civic-engagement projects," said Rhiannon Dysart, an ASU student and member of Students for Arizona PIRG.
Commenting about the importance of ensuring the political process works for his children, grandchildren and future generations, House Majority Leader McComish said, "No matter how young Arizonans register - or whether they vote in person or through an early ballot what is important is that young people vote and preserve our democracy for current and future generations."
The Arizona Student Vote Coalition is comprised of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, the Arizona Students' Association (ASA), the Associated Students of Arizona State University at the Polytechnic Campus (ASASUP), the Associated Students of Northern Arizona University (ASNAU), the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA), the Graduate and Professional Student Association at Arizona State University (GPSA), the Undergraduate Student Government at Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus (USG) and the Undergraduate Student Government at the West Campus (USGW). Since 2004, the Coalition has used time-tested and academically-reviewed methods to register thousands of 18-to 30-year-olds to vote and make personalized voter-turnout contacts. Student leaders will hit the ground running this fall to ensure the states youth vote momentum continues into November.
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