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Rock the Vote Press Releases


Chrissy Faessen, chrissy(at), 202.368.1706

Taylor Royle, taylor(at) 202.215.2003

Stephanie Young, stephanie(at) 202.368.1738 

Young Voters Hit Record Turnout in States Across the Country

Voter suppression tactics target young voters on Facebook and mobile phones; despite this, young voters turn out big

Washington, DC - November 4, 2008

Young voter turnout nationwide is showing significant increases compared to 2004 vote totals. Across the country, young people are voting at historic levels. In Virginia and Pennsylvania, where polls have already closed, we are seeing how their turnout is making the difference in close races.  

For example in Virginia:

Early reports indicate young people will help make or break the state for the presidential candidates.  According to just-released CNN exit polls, young people made up 21% of all voters in Virginia – one in every five voters – up from 17% in 2004.  While the state is at this time too close to call, this figure indicates they increased their turnout significantly.  A pre-election analysis showed that given the state’s even a 5% increase in turnout over 2004 means more than 50,000 additional voters.  Also according to the exit polls, these voters cast their ballots in a nearly 2:1 ratio for Senator Obama this could make a significant difference in a close race.  Young people are turning out in historic numbers in Virginia and they will make their mark on this election.

In Pennsylvania:

According to just-released CNN exit polls, young people made up 18% of all voters in Pennsylvania, nearly one in every five voters.  A pre-election analysis showed that given even a 5% increase in turnout over 2004 means that 236,000 additional young voters in this election.  Given that the exit polls show that 18-29 year olds cast their ballots in a 2:1 ratio for Senator Obama, their increased turnout clearly helped propel him to victory.

In places where polls are just closing and exit polls are not yet available such as Ohio and Florida, we are seeing significant increases from 2004 tallies.  For example at precinct 1049 at Ohio State University in 2004 there were a total of 622 votes cast; already at 6:30 pm more than 1049 individuals voted indicating a nearly 16 % increase over 2004.  See other examples below:

Ohio State University
2008 (as of 6:30 pm) 1049 votes cast
2004 total: 622 votes cast

Ohio State University
2008 (as of 6:30 pm) 734 votes cast
2004 total: 738 votes cast

Florida State University
2008 (as of 6:30 pm) 689 votes cast
2004 total: 625 votes cast

Despite these turnout increases, attempts to keep more young Americans from voting are widespread today.  “Our voting process continues to be marred by bureaucratic ineptitude, premeditated shenanigans and outright attempts to disenfranchise young voters.  These new voters will impact the election and, despite the attacks, are fighting back,” said Heather Smith, Executive Director, Rock the Vote.

Voting rights violations are nothing new in our country - sadly, we have long history of targeting groups of people based on their race, socioeconomic status, or gender in attempts to keep them from registering and voting.  In the 1960s, defenders of the status quo used police dogs and bloodshed; today, they use lies and threats, distributed online and through text messaging. 

“If you ever needed proof that young people are making their mark on politics, just look at the new techniques of suppressing their vote through inaccurate text messages and Facebook status updates directing young people to vote on November 5th.  While, these tactics may appear less crude, the aim is just as criminal and sinister,” said Heather Smith, Executive Director, Rock the Vote.

Today we rise above these last remaining gasps to preserve the conventional ways that politics have been run, where those in power perpetuate their attachments to and affinity for those who elected them, and, as a generation, demand a say in our future.

For more information on precinct vote totals and student voter suppression attempts visit