Though most high school seniors cannot vote just yet, politicians realize the value of reaching these future voters early in the game. This is why non-profit Youth-e-Vote, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, and President Clinton have gotten involved in a major marketing push for a mock vote that will take place at Youthevote.net on Nov. 2.
The crux of the marketing effort is a rich media e-mail campaign to drive student registration at the site beginning Sept. 25. Youth-e-Vote sent out 15,000 e-mails last week to wired schools nationwide.
The e-mails contained a MindArrow Systems eBrochure — a Windows-executable file that combines graphics, text, audio and video. Sen. McCain and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, D-MD, appear in the first message urging students, teachers and parents to participate in the project.
The goal is “very simple for all the complexities of the effort,” said Donald Tighe, spokesman at Youth-e-Vote, Washington. “It aims to turn today's students into tomorrow's voters. The new generation gets all of their information from the Internet. This project takes this new technology and combines it with oldest of American traditions.”
The site plans to send eight e-mail blasts that will wrap up Dec. 8. The messages will feature prominent Democratic and Republican leaders, including President Clinton, who recorded a video saying it's the responsibility of all citizens to vote.
The messages are expected to reach a total of 30,000 recipients. Additional lists will come from the National Education Association, youth volunteer groups and other education-based organizations.
All of the messages will have a viral marketing feature that lets recipients e-mail the message to a friend. “The lists will grow,” Tighe said. “We expect to be approaching 100,000 names by the time we finish.”
The voting will take place from Oct. 23 to Nov. 2. Students will vote for president as well as in Senate, House of Representatives and gubernatorial contests. Results will be reported nationally Nov. 2. Students who vote will receive a letter (downloaded from the site by their school) from Al Gore and George W. Bush. Tighe is expecting more than 10 million students to visit the site.
The Youth-e-Vote Student's Voter Center features a Debate Question contest. Registered students can enter a question to ask the presidential candidates during their TV debates. Two winning questions will be selected from each state. Of those 100, the site expects two will be posed to the candidates.
To get students involved, principals are encouraged to designate an adult staff member as registrar to sign up a school. A registrar also is responsible for getting students and parents to register students at the Web site. Every registrar with 100 percent student-body participation will be invited to attend the presidential inauguration in January.
From May to August, Youth-e-Vote had been publicizing its site via mentions in education-oriented publications, newsletters and mailings, including the National Association of Secondary School's Principals and the National Council for the Social Studies. These mailings were expected to have reached approximately 250,000 people.
To spur educational efforts within the classroom, the site also includes a “teachers lounge” section. It consists of an online curriculum and resources available to enhance civics studies in schools.
The site is looking for local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations to become sponsors. Current sponsors include Election.com, Hill & Knowlton, HiFusion.com and MindArrow Systems.
Nonpartisan, nonprofit voter education site FreedomChannel.com is the parent company of Youth-e-Vote. It founded the site because principals were alarmed by low turnout of young voters.