Politics of the Youth Vote

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

One advantage Democrats enjoyed during the recent election was the youth vote and Democratic lawmakers have introduced a number of bills that press that advantage.

While the aroma of politics permeates these bills, Republicans might want to consider that they have to make inroads with young voters and decide if at least one or two of the bills are worth supporting.

Bills introduced in the California legislature would allow voters who turn 18 by the time of the General Election to vote in the primary at age 17; another would allow teens to pre-register as early as 15; and a third would establish polling places at colleges and universities.

Supporters of the bills argue that the time to interest young minds in public affairs is when they are introduced to civics at school and when they turn voting age.

Opponents of the bills argue that school and college instructors tend to be liberal and have a great influence over the young voters. No wonder Democrats want to enhance the youth vote.

Statistics appear to back up that point. UCLA’s Higher Education Institute released statistics last October that show liberal professors far outnumber colleagues identified as middle-of-the-road and conservative.

I regularly walked by a school last year in which many teachers’ cars lined up on the street had Obama bumper stickers. I saw no Romney bumper stickers.

Under the circumstances, you couldn’t blame some Republicans from fondly recalling the old media fairness doctrine and demanding that young voters must hear different perspectives at school.

But Republicans have to be careful how they deal with the bills.

Republicans don’t want to be seen as roadblocks to young voters. Such a stand would backfire.

Yes, it isn’t easy if there is a built in bias in the schools. But will Republicans even get a hearing from students if it appears that they are blocking the young voters involvement in the political process?

Republicans should be doing the hard work of reaching out to students and convince the students to use their votes to support the Reps positions.

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