Dear Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama:
Greetings from what should be your favorite state - Ohio.
As the November election creeps even closer, we expect to run into you two campaigning throughout the Buckeye State hoping to capture our coveted 20 electoral votes. After all, you both have made several appearances in the swing state so far, and the Republican and Democratic conventions are still almost two months away.
McCain recently made a visit to the state's conservative headquarters, Cincinnati, before heading north to Lordstown near Youngstown. Meanwhile, Obama campaigned in Zanesville, reaching out to voters living in the outskirts of Ohio Appalachia.
As your planes and tour buses navigate our great state, please don't forget about us: the youth vote. We constitute a hefty portion of Ohio's voters, and we are energized for the 2008 election. For proof, just take a look at the youth voter turnout for the Ohio primary.
An estimated 25 percent of eligible Ohio citizens younger than 30 years old participated in the Ohio primary, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. Our participation marks an estimated 10 percent increase for the youth turnout rate compared to the last similar primary election in 2000.
Nationwide, more than 6.5 million people younger than 30 years old participated in the 2008 primaries and caucuses, according to CIRCLE.
We cannot think of a greater place for you to connect with your young potential supporters than at a college campus. In Ohio, you have plenty to choose from: 13 public universities, 24 branch campuses, a public medical school and 23 two-year and technical community colleges. And that's not even counting all of Ohio's private colleges and universities.
In the spring, theKent State Universitycommunity sprang to life when a rumor hit the campus that former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton was coming for a visit. Instead, her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, made a stop at Kent State.
Even so, hundreds of students and community members packed the upstairs of the Student Center to listen to the former first daughter stump for her mother. Just think how many people would show up to hear a possible president-to-be speak.
But we are not merely looking for an opportunity to be star-struck. We truly want to hear what the two of you plan to do for the United States - and Ohio in particular. We may still occasionally drink too much at a frat party or spend more money than we should on spring break trips, but we are also the future leaders of this country.
As gas prices continue to escalate, many of us are learning how to juggle paying the steep tuition bills while still being able to afford driving to and from work. And, somewhere in there, we still need to find time for studying.
That's why so many of these issues are especially important to us: the economy, higher education, the Iraq War, etc. We want to be able to find a job after college, too.
And, trust us, we are not always attached to our cell phones and iPods. If you make the time to speak to us directly, many of us will listen. And many more of us will go out and vote come Nov. 4.
Fall semester begins Aug. 25 at Kent State. We hope to see you soon.