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Facebook rocks the vote

  • Story Highlights
  • More than 25,000 people have joined Rock the Vote's Facebook group
  • Rock the Vote uses Web site to inform members or rallies, primaries and events
  • Web site also features voter registration opportunities
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By April Daley
Special to CNN
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CNNU campus correspondent April Daley is a freshman at Northwestern University. CNNU is a feature that provides student perspectives on news and trends from colleges across the United States. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of CNN, its affiliates or the schools where the campus correspondents are based.

EVANSTON, Illinois (CNN) -- Rock the Vote uses music and popular culture to get young people involved in politics, so it's probably no surprise that the group is using Facebook to reach plugged-in voters.

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Rock the Vote thinks Facebook has huge potential to reach young people.

More than 25,000 people have joined Rock the Vote's Facebook group. Kat Barr, deputy political director for Rock the Vote, said the social networking site opens a lot of doors.

"It has huge potential for young people to get their friends to register. It's about us giving them the tools to organize it," said Barr.

About 50 million young people between the ages of 18 and 31 will be eligible to vote this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A 2007 study by the Pew Research Center found that 26 percent of young people visit a social networking site like Facebook at least once a day.

Rock the Vote volunteers and staff create events on Facebook to spread the word about primaries, caucuses, rallies and elections.

Nia Arnold, a freshman at Northwestern University, registered to vote as a high school senior. She said the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited her school and registered everyone eligible. So when an event for the 2008 presidential election came across her Facebook homepage, she joined.

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She said this is a better way to reach teens than some of the popular culture channels on television.

"I don't know if MTV was working out too well," Arnold said. "It didn't reach me."

Arnold said her friends don't pay attention to politics, and she doesn't like reading the newspaper. Facebook was a smart way to educate her.

Northwestern University freshman Heather Waldron registered to vote as soon as she could. Even though she hasn't joined any of the Rock the Vote-affiliated Facebook groups, she said reaching out to teens through the networking site is a clever idea. Video Watch how students are using the Internet for election news »

"Facebook is something teens are always on, adding friends joining groups," Waldron said. "If it's on there, a lot of teens are going to see it."

High school senior Chennelle Bryant-Harris said it isn't reaching everyone. A lot of her classmates will be eligible to vote in the 2008 election, but she doesn't think the Facebook outreach will work on them.

"I'm not a fan of making someone vote," she said. "If you care, vote. If you're doing it because everyone else is and you really aren't deciding based on educated decisions, you shouldn't be voting."

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Barr said she is hopeful that the numbers will continue to rise.

"Young people are in today's politics," Barr said. "Facebook and other are great ways to tap into the energy that young people already have." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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