The National Campus Voter Registration Project initiated a nationwide campaign earlier this year to register college students, encouraging them to vote and educate themselves on issues and candidates.
The project involves 50 national higher education associations working together with the nations 3,700 colleges and universities to invoke student participation in the 2008 presidential election.
According to Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, voting is important for all ages, as it is an essential part of democracy. Abrahamson said publicizing the importance of voting at public service venues might be one way to increase voter participation.
Previous campaigns that targeted certain age groups have helped increase voter participation, according to Carrie Lynch, spokesperson for State Sen. Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston. Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters in Wisconsin, said it is important for college students to become educated on candidates, and, more importantly, on the issues.
Its kind of easy these days to get caught up in a lot of the hype in the media about the candidates without knowing any of their stands in the issues, Kaminski said.
The 2008 primaries have shown college participation to be far ahead of the 2000 and 2004 elections, according to Kaminski.
UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin said 2004 voter participation among Wisconsin adults ages 18 to 24 was the fourth highest in the country, and anyone trying to increase that number is already starting from a high base.
There is still a large gap, according to Franklin, between young adult participation and elderly participation, with 2004 numbers showing that 42 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 voted, while 67 percent of adults over 75 voted.
[This] is universal in all states across the nation, [and] has been for as long as we have been studying it, Franklin said.
According to Franklin, people who are settled in a community for long periods of time are more likely to vote, and college students are usually transient, making them less likely to participate.
Young adults are usually in a transition stage to becoming more involved citizens, which plays another role in low voter participation, according to Franklin.
Franklin said all age groups are equally important in voter participation, but establishing the habit early may help voters to continue in the future. The 2008 general election will be held Nov. 4.