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Wanted: More Young People To Vote In Jacksonville Elections

Peter Haden

 A group of young professionals in Jacksonville is trying to get more young people to the ballot box.

Jacksonville banker Kemal Gasper says young voters in Duval County are largely written off.

“Jacksonville is a young city,” Gasper says. “Our median age is 35 years old. However, only 19.7 percent showed up in the last general election. Young voters are perceived as lazy, and that our opinion does not matter.”

That’s a perception the Jax Young Voters Coalition is trying to change. They say they want to increase voter turnout among 18- to 40-year-olds in this year’s city elections by at least 5 percent over 2011. To make that happen, the coalition plans to use strategic marketing and meet-and-greet events to get young people more involved.

Coalition member Jack Twatchman says, “The main goal is to get young voters out and let their voices be heard, whatever they may be. We’re not trying to control what happens, just that we’re represented.”

In 2011, about 20 percent of 18- to 40-year-olds voted in the Jacksonville general city election. The coalition aims to increase that to 25 percent this year.

Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.