With Pennsylvania's April 24 primary election drawing near, the commonwealth's top elections official is traveling the state trying to motivate residents to cast ballots, especially younger voters.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 58.5 percent of citizens ages 18 to 24 were registered to vote, and nearly half of them did so in 2008. The younger age group was the only category to show a significant increase in turnout.
While young voter turnout was on the rise, it was not even close to the overall turnout rate. Nationwide, 63.6 percent of registered voters cast ballots. 68.65 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania did so in the 2008 Presidential election.
Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele says that she expects the young demographic to vote in higher numbers again this year. She adds that younger people often feel like their vote does not count because their preferred candidate does not end up winning.
"I encourage students to participate in the process, win or lose," Aichele said.
The 2012 election will be the first time that Pennsylvania's new Voter ID Law is in effect. All voters will need a state-issued photo ID when they go to their polling place in the fall election.
"[The County Boards of Elections] will be training their election workers to request photo ID, but not require it [for the April 24 Pennsylvania Primary], and remind voters that photo ID will be a requirement for the November election," Aichele said.
However, voters casting their ballots in a particular precinct for the first time must present identification. Aichele adds that directions to obtain photo identification and additional information can be found on the VotesPA website.