Young Democrats get involved in DNC
August 26, 2008
Denver — Young Democrats from across the nation convened Tuesday at the Colorado Convention Center to discuss the challenges of youthful politicos; namely, the difficulties of voter registration and interacting with less familiar audiences.
Jane Fleming, co-chair of the Democratic National Convention Youth Council, introduced a panel of consultants and representatives of political organizations, including CNN political analyst Jamal Simmons. Before addressing the panel, Fleming spoke about the particular struggles of registering young voters.
“One obstacle we’ve seen – finding them,” Fleming said of unregistered youth. “The information available on governmental records is often not correct, as (young people) are constantly moving around.”
Fleming said the solution to this issue was forgoing the lists of addresses and names and utilizing peer-to-peer techniques in getting young voters to fill out registration forms and making the connection either in real life or through online means. She referred to the six million voters under the age of 36 who participated in this year’s primaries and caucuses.
Heather Smith, a coordinator with Rock The Vote, encouraged audience members to closely examine the registration process and push for a smoother process.
“I believe it’s critical for us to make the registration process easier, to boost participation and really foster in young voters,” Smith said.
Recommended Stories For You
The next step is getting young voters to become politically active. Jason Rae, a 21-year-old superdelegate from Wisconsin, noted that progress was being made, as this year’s convention included 631 delegates under the age of 36, making it the most youthful convention in the history of the party.
A question and answer session following the panel conversation fielded a number of remarks regarding struggles young politicians faced in working to further their career.
Brandi Richards, a 32-year-old delegate from Texas, explained her challenge in reaching out to young adults without a college education in her attempt to register voters and find support for campaigns.
Thomas Bates, executive director of community service organization Democrats Work, spoke on his experiences as a young person struggling to fit in with the political parties of his home state of Arkansas.
“There’s more people over the age of 70 on the central committees of county parties than under the age of 40, these are not meetings that look like meetings that we could go to,” Bates said.
He encouraged Richards and other young activists to seek out specific ways to access audiences they normally would have difficulty reaching.
“I think our generation is very keyed in to what appeals to us and try to ask people through something that has no appeal to them or no relevance to their lives,” Richards said.