Harvard's Institute Of Politics Launches New Online Site To Boost Youth Voting In '08 Primaries

This story was written by Heather Wilson, FSView & Florida Flambeau
A new Web-based program, "No Vote, No Voice," aims at increasing youth turnout at the polls, particularly during the 2008 presidential primaries.

The project's homepage, www.novotenovoice.com, will offer ways for young people to register to vote and get news and information about the candidates and campaigns of the 2008 presidential primary process.

A key component of the "No Vote, No Voice" project is a Facebook application people can download to their online profiles. Using the application, youth who "pledge" to vote in an upcoming presidential primary or caucus will be sent important specified state voting deadline reminders to their Facebook page, including those for registering to vote and sending in an absentee ballot.

"This is a great way to make sure that younger voters get involved and stand up and voice their opinions," said Norma Stewart, a graduate student at Harvard University. "We can log on to the Facebook application and post different news links and discuss other causes that are important to be involved with."

Navigating the logistics of where and how to vote can be confusing, especially for those who have never voted before or who choose to vote by absentee ballot. Intended to be an easy-to-navigate voter education portal, "No Vote, No Voice" will offer links to voter information and registration Web sites to help first-time voters. A visitor to the homepage can quickly learn more about presidential candidates and their positions on various issues. The website also offers a variety of video clips from inspirational speeches given by political leaders over the past several decades.

"'No Vote, No Voice' is a great Web site to be able to find youth-oriented news and perspective on the 2008 race and get links to candidate Web sites if interested in volunteering on a presidential campaign," said FSU graduate student Sarah Chaiffetz.

Students who forward the Facebook application and encourage their friends to vote will be automatically entered to win weekly prizes including gift cards and an Apple iPod Touch.

Additionally, participants will be entered to win the "No Vote, No Voice" grand prize: An all-expenses paid trip for two to watch the taping of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" in New York City this spring.

Harvard's Insitute of Politics is also inviting students to create their own original video showing "Why Voting Matters," and upload the video to the "No Vote, No Voice" YouTube.com channel. Submitted videos will be played on the channel until the conclusion of the contest period, which ends Feb. 15, 2008. The creator of the best video will receive an iPod Touch.
© 2008 FSView & Florida Flambeau via U-WIRE