WASHINGTON -- Advocacy groups in six states are launching a major campaign to boost the turnout of young voters in the 2004 elections.
The New Voters Project will try to register more than 265,000 Americans ages 18 to 24 in Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin, Ivan Frishberg, a project spokesman, said yesterday.
The nonpartisan effort has raised about $9 million. Major financing for it comes from the Pew Charitable Trusts, George Washington University, and the state Public Interest Research Groups and their subisidiary, the Center for Public Interest Research.
Frishberg said the campaign targets the youngest voters because they go to the polls less than any other age group. In the 2000 election, only 29 percent of eligible voters ages 18-24 turned out.
"Voting and any kind of civic participation is really a learned behavior," Frishberg said. "The more young people get disconnected from civic life and civic engagement, that tends to persist throughout their life."
The campaign will conduct registration drives on college campuses and at youth-oriented events. It also will drive voter turnout in about 2,500 precincts with hundreds of paid staff members working phone banks and canvassing door-to-door.
Other organizations also are spending big money to lure young people to vote in 2004. Many -- including MTV, Rock the Vote, and World Wrestling Entertainment -- will work as partners with the New Voters Project.
Last month, television producer Norman Lear launched "Declare Yourself," a voter education campaign that will spend about $30 million to urge Americans ages 18 to 29 to register and vote.