Rally Tries To Engage Young Voters|
Henry M. Lopez
Santa Fe New Mexican
September 7, 2004
Santa Fe rockers struck brain-listing power chords and slam poets howled about society’s
injustices while dozens of volunteers approached young people Monday at the Capitol to get them registered in
time for November’s elections.
The next task will be to get newly registered voters to
the polls Nov. 2 – a big task, according to 2000 voter statistics. During the last presidential
election, less than half of all New Mexicans of voting age, or 47.4 percent, cast votes, according to the
Federal Elections Commission.
The Santa Fe branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has
sponsored the Labor Day voter-rigistration rally for the past four years with other groups as part of
national effort to increase voter registration and turnout.
The trappings of youth culture like hard-rock music and free food were intended to draw an
audience of young people, said Bob Moses, political coordinator for the NAACPC’s Santa Fe branch.
“What has to be done is to figure out ways to find issues that will resonate with young
voters,” Moses said as a band played. Moses suspects dozens registered Monday, but he didn’t have a final
September is a critical time for voter-registration efforts in the state, Moses said. New
Mexicans wanting to vote in November’s election have until Oct. 5 to register.
Deadline or not, Moses said voter registration is just one part of his work. The next task
will be to get the newly registered voters to the polls Nov. 2 – a big task, according to 2000 voter
During the last presidential election, less than half of all New Mexicans of voting age, or
47 percent, cast votes, according to the Federal Elections Commission.
With New Mexico as a battleground state in the presidential race, and polls showing
President Bush and Sen. John Kerry virtually in a dead heat, every vote matters, Moses said.
Young people weren’t just a rally target on Monday; they were organizers.
“Voting is important. But its only one day and you have to
remember what has to be done every other day of the year.”
Sixteen-year-old Julie Dalness of Santa Fe isn’t old enough to vote; nonetheless, she was at
the heart of the day’s activities having booked the bands that played.
“You just can’t go with the Flow,” Dalness said. “You just can’t sit back and complain.”
The rally marked her first political event as a participant or organizer. It was the music
and the ability to effect change that attracted her to the event, she said.
Dalness, who attends Santa Fe Community College, said young people have an undeserved
reputation for being apathetic. From the war in Iraq to wondering how local government might find ways to
provide more youth activities, the role of government in young people’s lives is crucial.
“Voting is important,” Dalness said. “But it’s only one day and you have to remember what
has to be done every other day of the year.”