Photo credit: Amber-Lynn Taber, CommonwealthTimes
President Barack Obama is making the rounds at college campuses this week to encourage students to register to vote, similar to the call to action the Obama campaign made during 2008′s election.
“I know that there’s been some talk about whether young people are going to get involved or turn out, but the fact of the matter is, we’ve seen in the past and we’re going to see again this time, the kind of difference that young voters make,” President Obama said during a conference call from Iowa Tuesday afternoon.
Obama will visit Charlottesville’s nTelos Wireless Pavilion on Wednesday as part of a two-day college tour that includes Iowa and Colorado. Originally, Obama was scheduled to speak at the University of Virginia but the school said a visit from the president on the second day of classes would be too big a distraction.
“I’m visiting college campuses today and tomorrow because I see the kind of changes that you’ve been able to bring about,” Obama said. “You made a difference in the election four years ago and as a consequence, you made a difference in the life of your country. Your vote helped us create a new college tax credit … doubled grant aid for millions of students, we fought and won to keep student loan rates low. All that happened because of you.”
In Virginia for the Obama campaign, registering voters has become almost as important as convincing them which candidate to vote for.
The president said that the Romney campaign is hoping that young people, if they aren’t voting for the Republican party ticket, won’t vote at all.
“I’m expecting something different,” Obama said.
Obama has been largely credited for mobilizing traditional non-voters in 2008′s presidential election, an accomplishment he’ll have to repeat this year to win over battleground states like Virginia.
According to the US Census Voting and Registration Report for the November 2008 election, 131 million people voted in the 2008 election, which was 5 million more people than the 2004 election. Even more importantly to Obama’s past campaign, the 18 to 24 years age group was the only group that showed a statistical increase between 2004′s and 2008′s elections in the US Census’s report. The increase was seen specifically in the southern and northeast regions of the country.
The election in 2008 also had a higher registration rate than 2004′s election, increasing registration rates of approximately 4 million people.
Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Connecticut and Rhode Island all increased their voting rates. Washington DC also saw an increase.
In Virginia, it was reported that 68.7 percent of the citizens voted in 2008.
Obama said he thinks the presidential race in Virginia will be a close one, regardless of how many voters his campaign and other non-partisan registration groups can register before the registration deadline on Oct. 15.
“Obviously each state has different circumstances,” Obama said. “Virginia’s unemployment rate is actually lower than a lot of states and as a consequence some of the things that people are thinking about there might be a little different.”
This article originally appeared on The Virginia Commonwealth University Commonwealth Times.