The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kelly Ceballos

New Resource Aims to Help Thousands of Young Voters in 2012

League of Women Voters Unveils High School Voter Registration Training Manual


As Election 2012 begins to heat up in earnest across the country, League of Women Voters President Elisabeth MacNamara today announced the release of a new training manual geared toward empowering organizations to help eligible high school students register and vote in 2012.

"By next year, people under 30 will make up nearly 25 percent of our country's electorate. Young Americans hold enormous power to drive our future energy security, demand policies to bring about sustainable job growth, and determine our place in the long-term global economy. We have one message for candidates running for all levels of office in 2012: young voters are not to be underestimated."

"Despite this, young people's political participation has traditionally lagged far behind other age groups--especially when we look at non-college, minority, or low-income youth," she stated. "We know that this is largely due to lack of access to quality voter registration information, and we know we can do a better job at engaging young people when they first become eligible to vote."

Census Bureau data shows us that 90 percent of registered voters reported that they went to the polls in 2008. But too many Americans, especially young people in underrepresented communities, never make it past the initial step of getting registered--in fact, more than half of the 18-year-olds in our country were not registered and as a result, could not vote, in 2008.

In 2010, the League piloted a five-state project to test voter registration approaches in dozens of high schools with large minority student populations. The results of that research program, as well as a wide range of field-tested resources and best practices, are laid out in the training manual being released today.

Leagues throughout the country will utilize the new training manual as they embark on voter registration programs in the remainder of 2011 and 2012. The manual is also being shared with a wide range of partners nationwide.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League's enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure. The League is a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels.