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Will Young People Make the Difference in Florida?  (2018/10/12 15:05:31)

In Florida’s fiercely competitive race for governor, the youth vote may finally matter.

By David Catanese, Senior Politics Writer Oct. 10, 2018, at 5:56 p.m.

Florida’s Fountain of Youths

Andrew Gillum the Democratic candidate for Florida Governor greets people during a campaign rally at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on August 31, 2018 in Orlando, Florida.

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee, is hoping young voters can help make him Florida's first African-American governor. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

DAVIE, FLA. – Attempting to capture the attention of a college student means competing with phone screens, earbuds and, in this southern Florida town, sometimes longboards.

But 22-year-old Anaruth Solache is unflagging in her sunny approach.

And on the final day to register to vote in Florida, snagging even one of every five Broward College students that is walking by counts as a victory.

Clipboard in hand, Solache presents two questions: Are you registered to vote? And if so, will you sign a pledge to follow through and actually cast a ballot?

With a table topped with candy, Frisbees and a speaker blasting tunes from Charli XCX, the goal is to nudge students to yes in only a couple of minutes.

Turning out young people to the polls has been such an unfulfilling endeavor for campaigns that many do little more than lip service to even try.

In 2014, the last midterm election, just 23 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 participated nationally, whereas the turnout rate for those 65 and older was more than double that at 59 percent.

NextGen America, the progressive political action committee funded by billionaire Tom Steyer, is spending tens of millions of dollars to try and do what the generic political parties have failed so miserably at accomplishing cycle after cycle. And more than anywhere else, there's evidence they are moving the needle in Florida, due to relentless foot soldiers like Solache.

Turnout in Florida's August primary was up 9 percentage points over 2014, and NextGen points to college campuses like this one as the fuel behind the surge.

"In every single precinct around the University of Florida, turnout doubled over 2014," says Maya Humes, a NextGen spokeswoman.

 
 
 

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