WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, February 5, record numbers of Americans participated in primaries and caucuses in 24 states. A significant number of these voters were young voters or voters of color, two groups that have had historically low voting rates. This surge in voting by two historically underrepresented populations continues a trend that started in Iowa, sustained through New Hampshire and South Carolina and was reaffirmed on "Super Tuesday." In response, Donna Massey, Project Vote board member, had the following statement: The unprecedented level of participation by young voters and voters of color demonstrate that when politicians speak to the interests of all Americans, Americans respond with record turnout on Election Day. In recent national elections, America's electorate has not reflected our country's voting eligible population. Instead, white, affluent and older voters have constituted a greater portion of the electorate than their share of the population warrants. A majority of young voters and voters of color stayed away from the polls. If the energy and enthusiasm of this year's presidential campaign continues, we can expect to see record turnout by historically underrepresented populations in November 2008. We know that our democracy works best when every American participates. Exit polls from several states participating in "Super Tuesday" document the increased rates of participation by young voters and voters of color. According to Project Vote's analysis of five "Super Tuesday" Democratic contests in Arizona, California, Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee, voter participation from traditionally underrepresented constituencies is up. The biggest surge can be seen in voters under age 30. This increase significantly outpaced their generally increasing share of the voting eligible population from 2004 to 2008. African-American turnout was also up across the five states. The most significant development of the night was the massive increase in turnout of Latinos in California. For the first time in recent history, Latinos outperformed their percentage of the voting eligible population in the Democratic primary in California. Latino turnout was up 81 percent (13 percentage points) to 29 percent while only making up 22 percent of the voting eligible population in California. So far, the 2008 primary season demonstrates what we in the voting rights community have always understood: when candidates and campaigns engage voters on the issues, the voters show up and vote. And, when barriers to voting are dismantled, citizens come out to vote. Project Vote has been working to ensure that voters won't encounter barriers to registration and voting in 2008. We are working with community partners to help 1.3 million Americans in low-income and minority communities to register to vote. While helping to bridge the voting gap, Project Vote also dismantles partisan barriers to voting and counters voter suppression. These tactics include: illegal partisan challenges, faulty equipment, needlessly strict ID requirements and long lines at polling places. Taken together, these barriers to voting undermine democracy and allow partisans to shape the electorate in ways that only further their agenda. Project Vote is countering a deliberate partisan voter exclusion method, known as "caging," with a federal legislative initiative and legislative reforms in four states. All Americans deserve fair and open access to voting. We need a system without excessive barriers between voters and one of their most cherished rights. To download Project Vote's memo, "Super Tuesday" Exit Poll Findings for Five States: Arizona, California, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee, Young, African-American and Latino Voters Surging, please visit the Project Vote website at http://projectvote.org/fileadmin/ProjectVote/Blog_docs/Project_Vote_Super_T uesday_Analysis.pdf Project Vote is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes voting in historically underrepresented communities. In 2008, Project Vote plans to help 1.3 million Americans register to vote in the country's largest nonpartisan voter registration program.
SOURCE Project Vote