[Ask JoAnne] The Voting Conundrum

Q. What can be done to get young people to register to vote?
— Concerned Citizen

A. What can be done to get young people to do anything? As a former high school teacher and a mother of two grown sons*, I know a little about this subject—a very little, as a matter of fact. It's hard enough to get a 2-year-old or a 14-year-old to do what you want them to do, but devising a strategy to deal with an 18- to 25-year-olds is pretty much out of bounds—certainly for anyone who's not 18 to 25 years old.

But I'll go further than that. It takes 18- to 25-year-old people who don't vote to figure out this one. I don't know why they don't vote. And nothing is more frustrating than ignorance. But, since I haven't convened an inquisition to gather the necessary intelligence—and this column was due yesterday—I guess I'll have to wing it on ignorance. (I should do at least as well as the CIA!)

The only thing I'm relatively sure about 18- to 25-year-olds is that the later at night it happens, the more likely they are to do it. So I'd go set up first-time voter registration between midnight and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights one weekend each month, except the month before an election deadline, when registration would go on every weekend. I would ask all the late-night venues frequented by this group across this city (I'm going to work on Jackson before I go state and nationwide with my plan) to cooperate, developing the most creative, exciting programs they can come up with. As an incentive to participating businesses, there will be significant tax benefits—local, state and federal. The amount of the benefit will be directly proportional to the number of first-time voters who register.

I admit my plan is broad, and the details must be worked out. But I believe we have a model we can work from.

Q. How can we get young voters to vote?
— Same Concerned Citizen

A. That's a snap. All voting will be done on cell phones.

*FYI, both my grown sons registered to vote the minute they were 18, they vote regularly, and not only that, they vote RIGHT. And by that, I don't mean right wing!


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