Friday, June 23, 2006


EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919

Campus Will Again Participate in Nationwide Effort to Secure More Young Voters

(MURFREESBORO)—MTSU, for the second time, will participate in the American Democracy Project, a multi-campus initiative designed to create a heightened understanding of civic engagement among undergraduates, reported Dr. Mark Byrnes, professor, political science.
The nationwide project, which is being conducted in 30 states and sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), currently calls upon school administrators and students at some 80 colleges and universities, including MTSU, to help register young voters using a mix of peer-to-peer outreach, encouragement from professors, e-mail and direct mail.
A non-partisan endeavor, the project’s national organizers said they hope to register 350,000 young voters in 2006.
“Although young people still voted at lower rates than other age groups, the youth vote improved significantly in 2004,” remarked Byrnes, who serves as chairman of MTSU’s student registration drive.
“Major registration and mobilization efforts in 2004 helped spur an increase in young voter turnout by 11 percentage points over (the year) 2000 levels—an increase of more than four million more voters,” he observed.
The proactive AASCU’s sign-up campaign is coordinated by Younger Voter Strategies, a project of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University that provides parties, candidates and consultants with data on the youth vote in 2004 and advice on how to effectively mobilize this electorate for upcoming elections. The project is funded by a $3 million grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Additionally, according to organizers, the goal of the registration campaign is “to produce graduates who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as citizens in democracy.”
Heather Smith, director of the Washington, D.C.,-based Young Voter Strategies, said, “State colleges and universities could be goldmines for nonprofits and political campaigns reaching out to register young voters,” thanks to the fact that more than six million students currently are enrolled at state colleges and universities in the U.S.
“Coming out of this project, we’ll have data to help create a comprehensive toolkit for future state college registration projects,” she added.
As for this year’s voter registration efforts at MTSU, “In 2006, we will continue to register students and hope to further increase young voter turnout,” Byrnes remarked.
According to information released by the AASCU, two of the nation’s leading voter mobilization researchers will work with the American Democracy Project in 2006 to help track and evaluate which techniques register the most college students and which of these techniques is most likely to result in a vote case come election time.
The AASCU represents 430 state colleges and universities that enroll more than 3.7 million students. For a complete list of the groups involved in the American Democracy Project’s registration efforts, please contact Kathleen Barr via e-mail at or by calling 202-994-9528.
For more information about MTSU’s efforts on behalf of the young voter registration effort, please contact Byrnes at or by calling 615-898-2351.

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