Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) recently announced a nationwide expansion of its Campus Voices project, an effort started last fall allowing college students to share their experiences and activities tracking the people and events of the 2008 presidential race. The institute has now expanded the project to serve as a place where students across the country can voice their opinions and report on the different ways young people are politically engaged and active on their campuses and in their states. The Web site also includes all the information students in any state would need to register and vote in November.
The new general election version of the Campus Voices project now includes schools across the country, and students at Harvard and 18 other colleges and universities have already begun capturing perspectives on political engagement and the race for president on their campuses via their own original video, photographic, and written reports posted to http://www.campusvoices.org. The national effort recently kicked off at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, where Campus Voices students undertook engaging interviews — now available online — with dozens of elected officials, delegates, members of the media, campaign strategists, and young people active at both major political events.
“After watching youth voter turnout double and triple in numerous states during this year’s primaries and caucuses, we know young people are already playing a big role in this election,” said IOP director and former mayor of Nashville, Tenn., Bill Purcell. “The Campus Voices project will amplify the young voter’s voice in the presidential campaign process and hopefully inspire even more students to participate in 2008.”
The project is intended to provide a new venue for students to share information and to highlight how important courting younger voters will be to campaigns. In the past two national elections, younger voter turnout increased markedly, and Campus Voices is part of the institute’s effort to expand participation further. Approximately 10 million votes were cast in the 2006 midterm elections by 18- to-29-year-olds; this demographic group also cast slightly more votes than seniors aged 65 and older in the 2004 elections, according to exit polls.
The initial Campus Voices project was created in collaboration with The New York Times in October 2007, when Harvard undergraduates traveled to New Hampshire to observe and follow the candidates, campaigns, and events of the 2008 New Hampshire Primary, then published their video and written dispatches and reports on the project’s Web site.