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Effort to reach young voters commendable even if not successful

Posted: Thursday, July 29, 2004

P. Diddy says he wants to make voting cool, so the hip-hop mogul has launched a nationwide effort to make voting ''sexy'' and encourage young people to vote. His nonpartisan campaign is called ''Citizen Change.'' That's cool.

The nation's eligible young voters need not be sitting on the sidelines for this presidential or any election, including the ones in their own back yard. They may believe political parties are old-school and out-of-touch, but the truth is that young people have the same opportunity as any other group the opportunity to go into a voting booth and pull a lever. Their numbers are such that they really could influence many elections at the local, state and national level.

Unfortunately, the turnout has been terrible among 18-to-25-year-olds. Nearly 50 percent in that age group voted in 1972, the first time 18-year-olds could vote. In 2000, only 29 percent went to the polls.

Yet campaigns like P. Diddy's and others that have preceded him Rock the Vote, with Madonna as one of its promoters, Russell Simmons' voter registration drives at his hip-hop summits, BET and MTV voter awareness messages are positive and much-needed efforts. They speak to a generation whose voice will be heard louder and clearer if it's backed up by the power of the vote.

The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.

July 26



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