BANGOR (AP) – Maine’s young voters had a high turnout at the polls in 2004 and could have another strong showing in November’s election, according to a newly released report.

Maine’s youth voter turnout – defined as those between 18 and 29 – was fifth in the nation in 2004 at 59 percent, according to a study by the University of Maryland’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Only 31 percent of young Maine voters cast ballots in the midterm elections of 2002, but that was higher than the national average of 22 percent, said Mark Lopez, research director at the center.

The high turnout in 2004, combined with this year’s race for governor, could help boost the turnout of young voters in November, Lopez said.

“Young people can be mobilized,” Lopez said. “It’s not hard to get them to the polls. It’s as simple as asking.”

In Maine, that’s what both major parties are doing.

At a recent membership drive at the University of Maine at Orono, the Maine College Republicans signed up more than 100 incoming freshman as new members, which represented a single-day record, according to Nathaniel Walton, chairman of the group.

“There was actually a line to get to our table,” Walton said.

State Rep. Emily Ann Cain, D-Orono, said she expects young voters to take a keen interest in this year’s election, where issues such as a referendum that would limit government spending will affect future generations.

“We’re trying to make these issues relevant to young people,” said Cain. “Students really do care. We just don’t ask them a lot.”

Lopez expects Maine’s youth voter turnout to be higher this year than the last midterm election in 2002, but said the state is difficult to predict.

While the young-voter turnout in Maine is always higher the national average, it seems to ebb and flow in off-year elections depending on local issues, he said.

“Maine to some extent goes to the beat of its own drum,” he said.


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