Rock the Vote Keeps Younger Generations Engaged in Elections

[ 0 ] July 1, 2013 |

Heather Smith of Rock the Vote

The 2008 presidential election was the year of the youth vote and when Election Day came around in the fall of 2012, many were skeptical as to how the younger generation would vote.

“Everyone was saying there was an enthusiasm gap,” said Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote. “Young people still cared passionately about the issues and again on Election Day in 2012 they came out in record numbers and they truly, in my opinion, rocked the vote again.”

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Smith sat down with genConnect at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival, reflecting on the past elections and looking ahead to 2016. In the 2012 presidential election, Rock the Vote targeted the youth voters with a slightly different approach. “It’s not about just showing up, but it’s showing up and then using that power and staying engaged and making sure to use your voice,” said Smith. Rock the Vote reminded younger generations to not just vote, but to work between elections to really get the issues they cared about fixed.

“This really resonated in young people. Rock the Vote registered over a million new young voters [in 2012].”

Watch Heather Smith discuss Rock the Vote and how younger generations can stay engaged between elections at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival:

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When looking ahead to 2016, Smith says it’s never too early to start thinking about voter registration.

“What’s incredible about the youth vote is that it changes every single day,” Smith said. “The electorate in 2016 will be all new voters.”

Prior to 2016, Rock the Vote is targeting high-school students who will soon be eligible to vote, discussing important issues that impact them and using new ways of reaching them, such as through mobile phones and devices. Issues such as student loans, unemployment, voting rights and healthcare are ones of particular interest to this voting demographic.

After targeting the future voters, Rock the Vote will also work to keep current voters engaged.

womenvoters“Everyone who voted in 2012 – we want to make sure they vote again,” Smith said.  “If you get a voter to vote twice, they’ll vote for life.” It is also important to remind voters that the power to vote is important, but only if you use it.

“We are giving them the opportunity to take action on big issues – immigration, student loans, voting rights issues and healthcare,” Smith said. “We are giving them the opportunity to leverage their voice in the decision making process.”

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Category: Aspen Ideas Festival 2013

Profile photo of Heather Smith

About Heather Smith: During the past two election cycles, Heather Smith has helped Rock the Vote build new tools and refined best practices for the continued engagement of young voters. In 2010, Smith led Rock the Vote in [...]
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