Norman Lear: Empowering the Youth Vote

Producer Launches Campaign to Encourage Young Voters

Norman Lear

In July 2001, Norman Lear announces the kick-off of a three-and-a-half year cross-country tour of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence Road Trip hide caption

itoggle caption The Declaration of Independence Road Trip

Norman Lear, one of Hollywood's leading television and film producers, is launching a drive to encourage young people to vote in next year's election. The All in the Family creator — who bought an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and sent it on a multi-year nationwide tour — discusses the new voter initiative with NPR's Renee Montagne.

Voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds is generally far lower than the overall voting population. In 2000, about 36 percent of the young group reported that it voted, compared to nearly 60 percent for all voters, according to the Census Bureau.

Lear cites studies that show the importance of getting young adults to vote as soon as they turn 18. "If you get that person to vote, inspire that person to vote the first time, the chances are much greater that they will vote for the rest of their lives," he says.

One of the reasons young people cite for not voting is that they "don't feel sufficiently informed," Lear says. "One of the things we want to do is encourage young people to know that they are far more informed than they think they are. And, more important than that, once they declare themselves a voter automatically they will see more, they will hear more because they will be sensitized to it."



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