Connecticut's top elections official urged high school students Tuesday to register to vote and work in their communities to register others.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced at Berlin High School the launch of a voter registration contest for high school students. Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day.
The high school team that signs up the most new voters will meet with Merrill and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and may ask any question they want.
"I'm a little uneasy at that," Merrill joked.
Merrill says the project gives students the opportunity to learn who is eligible to register to vote, the voting process and past efforts to win the vote for black Americans, women and those between the ages of 18 and 21 who once could not vote.
Turnout among voters between the ages of 18 and 30 is generally lower than among older voters, Merrill said Wednesday. A constitutional amendment in 1971 reduced the voting age to 18 from 21. It was the result, in part, to the anti-war movement spearheaded by college students protesting U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
"This generation does not have the draft to make them quite so concerned," she said.
Still, issues such as the high cost of college education, student loans and the job market should be sufficient to motivate young voters, Merrill said. She also blames a drop in civic education in the schools for less interest in voting and politics among the young.
Rules requiring voter registration even if voters move across town and an antiquated use of paper documents and forms also are turnoffs to teens and those in their early 20s, Merrill said.
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