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Thursday, November 27, 2014
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Published: Friday, 10/29/2004

The youth vote

IN WHAT could be a historic turnaround, 72 percent of college students in a national survey said they were registered to vote and would "definitely" cast ballots on Tuesday.

If the poll numbers gathered by Harvard's Institute of Politics play out at the voting booth, this would be a welcome change in behavior from 2000 when the majority of college students stayed away from the polls.

Next week we'll know for sure if the recent rise in voter registration among college students is more than just a road paved with good intentions.

Among the students polled, Sen. John Kerry holds a double-digit lead over President Bush. If these newly registered voters follow through by casting ballots, young people may play a pivotal role in choosing the president.

Not surprisingly, there are some who would rather they did not.

Given the growing importance of this demographic, it is disheartening to learn that political operatives in battleground states have targeted these voters for Election Day mischief.

A few weeks ago in the state of Oregon, and just last week in Pennsylvania, university students had their voting registrations switched to Republican and polling locations changed when asked by canvassers to sign bogus petitions. One sought to legalize medical marijuana, another to lower auto insurance rates for young drivers, but neither was legitimate.

As registration tricks go, this one is particularly egregious because it will lead to the kind of Election Day confusion that could not only block a vote from being cast but also turn off a new voter to the process.

Some young people may find it difficult to exercise their franchise Tuesday because of these underhanded dealings. But they should persevere. Although African-Americans won the right to vote a long time ago, it took decades to abolish the literacy tests and poll taxes that had been designed to discourage their participation.

Still, blacks did overcome.

Young voters who want their choice to be counted can overcome these reprehensible tactics as well.



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