Contrary to columnist’s view, young-voter turnout is soaring

Regarding David Hill’s March 5 column “Youth vote over-hyped again”: In response to his question, “Does reality support [Rock the Vote’s Heather Smith’s] enthusiasm?” — the answer is yes. This year we’re seeing record turnout of young voters in both the Democratic and Republican primaries and caucuses, building on a trend that began with a huge youth vote increase in 2004 and 2006. In fact, in 2004 the turnout rate of 18- to 29-year-olds was higher than all but one year, 1992, since 18- to 20-year-olds got the right to vote in 1972.

We are witnessing young people involved in the political process unlike they’ve ever been, and the candidates are noticing and are addressing their concerns. According to Rock the Vote’s recent young voter poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, 88 percent of young people feel they have the power to change our country and 75 percent believe young people are making more of a difference than usual this election cycle. This is the highest level of vote efficacy among young voters that we have ever registered and looks to only reinforce their higher level of involvement in this election.

Overall in 2008, we have seen a 146 percent increase in young voter turnout. In this primary season alone, we have seen young voter turnout doubling, tripling (as proven in Texas on Tuesday) and quadrupling.

Young people — like all voters — will turn out to the polls when a candidate reaches out and speaks to them about the issues they care about. Findings from the same poll show more than three in four young people have paid “close attention” to the election thus far.

This year more than 44 million young people are eligible to vote — that’s one-fifth of the voting population. So, I echo Heather Smith’s notion that the record-breaking youth turnout is about a lot more than Obama (again, youth voting in Republican primaries is also up substantially). Young people have an increasing enthusiasm for the electoral process, and it is necessary for candidates to locate and communicate with potential voters under the age of 30 to win in November. I believe John McCain is doing that. If we want John McCain and our party back in the White House, we must continue to reach out to this large and increasingly active group of voters.

Alexandria, Va.

Do as I say ...

From Patricia Harned, Ph.D., president, Ethics Resource Center

Once again, unfortunately, lawmakers seem obsessed with focusing on how to craft specific laws rather than on creating a truly ethical environment (“Tough-cop role taken by Senate on ethics issue,” March 4). In doing so, they may serve only to encourage people to avoid breaking the law — not necessarily to act with integrity.

And the latest stall of House legislation to create an outside ethics review panel gives many Americans another reason to wonder how serious Congress is about addressing its own ethics challenges.

Our organization’s research shows government’s ethics challenges are largely on par with those of business. Congress has rightly insisted, time and again, that American business clean up its act. Citizens no doubt are wondering why Congress is so slow to get tough with ethics at home.

Arlington, Va.

Morris not over it

Bobbie Brinegar

(Regarding Dick Morris’s column “It’s over,” March 6.) I’m over injured angry white men who won’t step aside, allow voters to think afresh, and, in the due course of the nomination process, imagine America anew.

Weston, Fla.