Since 1972, when 18-year-olds could begin voting, there's been a disturbing decline in voter turnout among the younger generations. In 2000, just 47 percent of 18-24-year-olds in Oregon - known as Generation Y - turned out to vote in the presidential election.

Elections officials hope that figure will change during this year's presidential election on Nov. 2. It's not clear just how many younger voters there are registered in Oregon because the elections division does not keep records of persons' ages at the time they vote. What is clear, however, is that very few younger voters are actually voting.

According to the New Voters Project, an organization that the Oregon Elections Division has partnered with to reach out to young voters to register and vote, recent surveys indicate young people are unconvinced that voting is an effective tool to better their communities. They feel their votes will not make a difference.

The percentage of the younger generation who are actually voting is the same as it was in 1972, when 18-year-olds could first start voting: 47 percent.

To try to change this figure, some organizations are reaching out with open arms to the 18- to 24-year-old demographic in hopes of securing more registered voters before each election. Project Vote Smart, which has operations in six states, has on-campus voter registration drives on college campuses, as well as registration tables at county and state fairs.

The Oregon Student Association puts out weekly "faxoids" that inform students about the advantages to voting and the impact of a vote. Similarly, the Student Vote Coalition, run through the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group, tries to reach out to other students on a peer-to-peer basis.

The registration deadline for Oregon voters is Tuesday, Oct. 12. Registration deadlines are always 21 days before an election. Registration forms are available online at the Oregon Secretary of State's Web site, at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the post office, county elections office and at many college and community college campuses.

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