This group gets its name from a documentary film by teenage director David D. Burstein, who spent two years examining the disconnect between politicians and young adults. (One congressman told Burnstein the government should never have lowered the voting age in the first place). After the film's release, Burstein launched the site "to register, engage, and mobilize America's youth," as the site's mission statement reads. As for why he started the organization, Burnstein tells Politico: "There is a tendency to categorize our generation as obsessed with Angelina, Britney and Xboxes. But more than ever, our generation wants to make a difference; we just have no reason to believe politics is a way of doing that."
Rock The Vote
Rock the Vote, popularized by MTV's 1996 "Choose or Lose initiative," began in 1989 with founder Jeff Ayeroff's first campaign, "Censorship is UnAmerican." Ayeroff, then an entertainment lawyer, wanted to protest what he perceived to be a wave of attacks on art and freedom of speech. (He would later work for Virgin Records and Time Warner, TIME's parent company). With numerous music and Hollywood contacts, Ayeroff was able to make voting look hip. By 2001, the organization had registered more than a million young voters. A number of celebrities have appeared in the group's ads, including Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Leonardo DiCaprio. The organization sponsors its own channel on YouTube. The group's name has since become part of the public lexicon. After the Iowa caucus earlier this month, Rolling Stone called the surprisingly young voter turn-out "a Rock the Vote political wet dream."
Redeem The Vote
The Washington Post called this organization "the evangelical answer to MTV's Rock the Vote campaign." Minister and gastroenterologist Dr. Randy Brinson founded the group during the 2004 election and hired the same media firm that marketed Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ to broaden RTV's reach. In 2004, the group organized Christian rock concerts in swing states and singlehandedly registered some 78,000 voters. For this year's Iowa caucuses, the group employed another technique to attract young evangelicals free samples of southern cuisine like collard greens and banana pudding. Using the same kind of tongue-in-cheek humor as that of favored candidate Mike Huckabee, the website asks voters about this year's presidential candidates: "When 'The Poll' is called up yonder, will they be there?" Besides Huckabee, the group has also partnered with The Gospel Music Association, His Radio, Christian Broadcasting Network and Homemakers for America.
A 2001 grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts led to the creation of CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement). Based at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy, the center conducts research on the civic and political engagement of Americans between the ages of 15 and 25. One of the group's main areas of study is the way young voters are using online tools to connect with one another, including VotePoke.org.
This site compiles voter rolls from each state, allowing visitors to check their registration status immediately. Voters can also "poke" their friends remind them via email about checking their registration statuses. VotePoke is part of a new set of online tools sponsored by MoveOn.org.
Black Youth Vote
BYV!, the youth division of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, focuses on voter registration for African Americans in seven states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan and Texas. According to the group's statistics, nearly 50% of the black American electorate is made up of men and women under the age of 35.
21st Century Democrats
This group bills itself as one of the few political action committees to train grassroots organizers for progressive and populist candidates. In 2004, it backed Barack Obama's campaign for a seat in the Illinois Senate.
As "America's oldest youth political organization," the Young Republicans (or "YRs," as they're also known) have united registered Republicans from 18 to 40-years-old since 1935, including notable alumni Florida Governor Charlie Crist and his predecessor, Jeb Bush.
As the "first-ever daily national student newspaper," Scoops'08 brings together nearly 300 high school and college journalists from across the country. The founders, a Massachusetts high school student and a Yale sophomore, met as interns for Hillary Clinton's campaign, though both argue the site is non-partisan. The newspaper recently incorporated this summer as a not-for-profit entity called Scoop Media, Inc., enjoying pro bono legal assistance from Weil, Gotshal & Manges. It also draws guidance from an advisory board that includes New York Times columnist Frank Rich and Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter, among others.
No Vote, No Voice
Former Iowa congressman Jim Leach, who now heads Harvard's Institute of Politics, helped launch this site in December 2007. Like Rock The Vote, the site relies on virtual pledges from its visitors to vote in the upcoming election and get five friends to do the same, (offering raffles for iPods and tickets to The Colbert Report as further incentive).
The site's name and slogan "We Dig, You Decide" reflect its mission to break down the positions of each candidate on issues from Iraq to immigration. Created by Harvard student Will Ruben, the site is still largely managed by the school's undergrads and touts the fact that its writers have all taken a "non-partisan oath."