Politics & Government

Will this be the year of the young voter?

With all the high-profile voter registration efforts aimed at young people across the country this year, one question has hung in the air: Would the registration efforts translate into votes?

In North Carolina, the answer so far appears to be yes. Since early voting started Thursday, the state's youngest voters have turned out in greater percentages than voters in their late 20s and 30s.

Through Tuesday morning, 8.5 percent of North Carolina's registered voters ages 18-24 had already voted or requested absentee ballots – compared with 6.3 percent of those ages 25-45.

Just under 56,000 of the state's youngest voters have already gone to the polls or requested absentee ballots.

Sandra Rosen, waiting in line to vote at UNC Charlotte this week, said the election is a hot topic on campus. Rosen, who said she plans to vote for Democrat Barack Obama, said students gathered to watch the presidential debates “like it was a football game.”

Katy Harriger, professor of political science at Wake Forest University, isn't surprised at the initial burst by the youngest voters because “this is such a different year.”

But she said she doesn't know whether the 18-to-24-year-olds will keep voting in high numbers the next two weeks.

Across North Carolina, population growth and registration drives have added more than 700,000 new voters this year. More than 200,000 are ages 18-24.

South Carolina has registered 132,000 new voters since February. A breakdown by age was not immediately available.

In North Carolina, nearly half the new voters of all age groups are Democrats.

Read the complete story at charlotteobserver.com