National Young Voter Month in High Gear
DENVER - February is "National Youth Voter Month," an effort by the League of Women Voters to help young people embrace and navigate the electoral process. In Colorado, 16 year olds can pre-register when they take their driver's license test, and can vote after they turn 18.
Marlu Burkamp, spokeswoman with the League's Colorado chapter, says the rate of youth registration and voting has lagged in recent years.
"We need to recognize the new and soon-to-be voters and acquaint them with the political process and urge them to register to vote and recognize the importance of voting," says Burkamp. "Let's face it, they will be our future leaders."
Burkamp says with Colorado legislators currently considering bills criminalizing juvenile "sexting," capping student loan interest rates and limiting access to abortion, now is a great time for young people to dig into politics. She adds anyone with a driver's license or state ID can register using a smart phone at GoVoteColorado.com.
All registered voters receive ballots by mail, at home or away at college, even if they didn't vote in the last election.
Burkamp points to the close results in Iowa's presidential caucuses as a prime example of why young people should make sure their vote gets counted.
"Many of our young students are so cynical they think nothing will matter," she says. "But it does matter. A vote still matters, there are close elections. Not voting is like taking your hands off the steering wheel if you disagree with the map."
Burkamp encourages people who think they shouldn't vote if they're not informed to check out the League's non-partisan analysis at www.VOTE411.org.
The site also has other basic information, including how to get a ballot and update your address. On Valentine's Day this year, the League of Women Voters will celebrate 96 years of commitment to voter registration, education and advocacy.