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Press Release: SmackDown Your Vote!

Smackdown Your Vote! Announces Program To Increase
Young Voter Participation By One Million In 2004
February 3, 2003
 
The Smackdown Your Vote! partners, including new partner, the League of Women Voters, today unveiled their A Million More In 2004, initiative, with the objective of getting one million more 18-to-30-year-olds to cast their votes in the 2004 Presidential election than did in the Presidential election of 2000.

The program's other goals include: enlisting young people to become poll workers to address an aging poll worker force; obtaining a presidential debate focused on issues affecting young voters in 2004; and getting candidates to speak forthrightly to young people on the issues. (A complete list of objectives is attached). The Smackdown Your Vote! partners announced the new initiative today at the National Press Club before an enthusiastic crowd of high school and college students.

"Since July 2000, Smackdown Your Vote! has registered 400,000 new voters, and now the time has come to engage these new voters in our democracy," said Smackdown Your Vote! Honorary Co-chair and WWE Superstar Kurt Angle. "By the next Presidential election, we will register more than one million new voters, and we commit today that we will increase by one million the turnout of young voters in the 2004 elections.  Who will these young people vote for?  That question can only be answered by the actions of our candidates for public office.

That's why we believe a Presidential Youth Debate is imperative in 2004.
"The new initiative also focuses on getting 16-and-17-year-olds engaged
in democracy so they will be more interested in voting in 2004, or when
they become voter eligible.  "If 16-and17-year-olds can drive, they can
start becoming active in our democracy," said WWE Superstar Bradshaw, who was named today as a new honorary Smackdown Your Vote! Co-chair. "We want every state to start training these high school students to become poll workers. We have got to get young Americans excited again about our democracy and the role they can play in shaping the future of America."

The idea of engaging young people as poll workers and educating young voters is an important part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 passed by Congress in its last session.

U.S. Representative Bob Ney (R-OH), Chairman, Committee on House Administration, announced the formation of a Congressional Youth Civic Caucus in the House of Representatives.  The caucus will look at a wide array of issues and will urge their fellow members of Congress to do more outreach to young people, as well as to support the objectives of A Million More in 2004.

"Voting is at the core of our democracy and efforts such as this, that encourage more people to go to the polls on Election Day should be applauded.  I'm here today to show my support for this important program and looking forward to its continued success as all of us seek to engage America's young people in our democracy, " stated U.S. Rep. Ney.

The formation of a national state initiative - Youth Empowerment Strategy (YES) for Democracy -- was also announced.  The new bi-partisan initiative, co-chaired by Minnesota State Representative Tony Sertich (DFL), Florida State Senator David Aronberg (D), and Ohio State Representative Geoffrey Smith (R) will encourage state elected officials across the country to engage in youth forums and debates and to support the objectives of A Million More in 2004.

"I have been honored to participate in Smackdown Your Vote! in the past, and I'm really looking forward to joining the Smackdown Your Vote! team as National Co-chairman of the new national YES for Democracy initiative," said State Rep. Sertich.  "YES for Democracy is an exciting and creative way to reach out to young voters and get the next generation involved in the political process at the state level.

Smackdown Your Vote! has already made a difference in thousands of
communities across the nation, and this goal of a million new voters
will make sure that we continue to build on that success into the 2004
elections."

Added State Rep. Smith, "Every year, the truest act of freedom in the world takes place on Election Day in America.  We need to let people know that everyone, including young adults, are invited.  That is what we want to accomplish through YES for Democracy."

"As a young lawmaker, I know how critical voting is to the survival of our hopes and our dreams," said State Sen. Aronberg. "Our young adults need to realize that casting their ballot gives voice to their ideals. Without that, democracy can't survive or flourish."

Mary Kiffmeyer, Minnesota (R) Secretary of State and the president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said re-engaging
American youth in our democratic republic, something she has heavily
promoted in Minnesota, would be an important part of NASS activities in the coming two years.  "I know that my fellow Secretaries of State want to see more youth engagement and turnout at the polls," she said. "I
support what Smackdown Your Vote! is trying to accomplish, and the
objectives of A Million More in 2004 has my full support."

Today, the League of Women Voters becomes the newest partner in Smackdown Your Vote!. One of the League's goals will be to facilitate more debates aimed at young people among candidates for public office.

The other partners in Smackdown Your Vote! are Youth Vote Coalition,
Rock the Vote,  Project Vote Smart, National Association of Secretaries
of State, California Vote America, National Foundation for Women
Legislators, Participate America Foundation, Close Up Foundation,
Freedom's Answer and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.
"We are excited about our partnership with the Smackdown Your Vote!.

A Million More in 2004 is an excellent opportunity to reach the growing

number of younger voters who have become increasingly disengaged in the political process. We are hopeful that our candidate debates and voter education efforts nationwide will energize America's youngest voters and help them realize the importance of voting and the impact their vote can have," stated Kay J. Maxwell, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States
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