From punk concerts to free ice cream, organizations around the
nation are utilizing their resources in an attempt to mobilize the
As the 2004 election approaches, many youth-voter organizations
say more effort has gone into encouraging young people to vote this
year and the youth-voter organizations have cooperated more than
“There’s definitely a lot more programs (this year),” said
Veronica De La Garza, executive director of the Youth Vote
Coalition. “It’s an unprecedented effort.”
Youth Vote Coalition is one of many youth-voter organizations
working to mobilize the 18- to 30-year-old vote. De La Garza, 28,
said that although there are many reasons young people tend to not
vote, one of the main reasons is that politicians are not
responsive to young people’s needs.
“Our political system is not reaching out to young people,” De
La Garza said. “You’re ignoring a quarter of the population.”
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream has partnered with Rock the Vote to
attract young voters, using its “Free Cone Day” as a time when Rock
the Vote can register voters.
“I have seen more groups working on voter registration than ever
before,” said Lee Holden, spokesperson for Ben and Jerry’s. “It’s
so encouraging. I hope we’ll see a record turnout this
Ben and Jerry’s has now developed a democratically named ice
cream flavor, “Primary Berry Graham” which America Online users
voted on. Part of the profits from this flavor will be donated to
Rock the Vote.
“It’s an absolutely critical year this year,” Holden said. “That
age group (18- to 24-years old) is huge and very powerful.”
Jay Strell, spokesperson for Rock the Vote, said young people
are being motivated to vote by a variety of issues, ranging from
school-loan debts to the war in Iraq.
“I just think that the stakes are very high in this election,”
Strell said. “So much has changed since 2000.”
Rock the Vote has set its goal for this year at registering one
million new voters. According to Strell, the program is about a
quarter of the way to reaching that goal.
Strell said this year there has been much more cooperation
between the youth-voter organizations.
Campus Compact has also been actively mobilizing the youth vote,
with its “Raise Your Voice Campaign,” as well as student-leadership
“I think what happened in 2000 … really brought the importance
of each individual vote to the forefront,” said Josh Stearns,
policy and communications associate of Campus Compact.
Stearns said the New Voters Project, a group designed to
encourage new voters has brought many different groups together,
including MTV and World Wrestling Entertainment.
“We think (encouraging the youth vote) is vital,” Stearns