MEADVILLE, Pa., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- "Young voters and back, and politicians will ignore them at their peril," says Political Science Professor Daniel M. Shea. According to figures released this morning by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), during this election young voter turnout is the highest it has been in more than a decade. CIRCLE reports that at least 20.9 million Americans under the age of 30 voted in 2004, an increase of 4.6 million compared to 2000. The percentage of eligible young people who voted (the turnout rate) also increased, CIRCLE says, from about 42.3% to approximately 51.6%. For Shea, who directs Allegheny College Center for Political Participation, CIRCLE's early numbers confirm his expectations for this year's turnout and offer compelling evidence that his efforts, along with those of colleagues around the country who are committed to encouraging greater political engagement among young Americans, are paying off. "I'm convinced that we've turned the corner and that young Americans will continue to be important players in the electoral process," says Shea. "We'll have to wait a bit for more data, but I'm also convinced that young Americans participated in campaign efforts at record levels. Both campaigns relied heavily on young activists. They were there, in the trenches, and it was great to see." As for the losing side: "The trick, of course, to sustaining enthusiasm will be in convincing the many young Kerry supporters that their efforts were not in vain, that they made a difference. If they can take their passion and create long-term organizations, they will be a force to reckon with."
SOURCE Allegheny College