In New Site, IOP Aims at Youth

The Institute of Politics released a new Web-based initiative this week called “No Vote, No Voice” in an effort to increase youth voter turnout during the 2008 primary elections.

The project, spearheaded by IOP Director James A. Leach, aims to provide an easy-to-use Web site targeted at facilitating and increasing student involvement in next year’s campaigns and elections.

“We are trying to establish a Web site that will be one-stop-shopping for youth political activism,” said Leach. “For people to fully participate in the democracy, it is mandatory for them to take part in the electoral process.”

The site,, offers links to partisan, non-partisan, and voter registration Web sites.

“The goal is to make Harvard the leadership institution in America on youth voting,” Leach said. “The IOP is the vehicle, using very innovative techniques that have never been used before.”

A centerpiece of the initiative is a Facebook application that will send state-specific voting deadline reminders to anyone who pledges to vote in the primaries.

S. Susan Zhu ’11, who already has the Facebook application, said she believes in the importance of the initiative.

“People concentrate too much on the final presidential election,” Zhu said yesterday. “I think its very important that people take time to vote for who’s in that party and can represent their actual beliefs and not just vote for the party in the end.”

Anyone who forwards the application to their Facebook friends is automatically entered in a competition with prizes including an iPod Touch and an all-expenses-paid trip for two to a taping of “The Colbert Report” in New York.

Zhu said the prizes attracted her as much as the cause.

“The problem with the application is that they don’t really care who you invite as long as you invite a certain number, and what if you invite someone who’s Canadian or international?” Zhu said. “But I’m kind of in love with Stephen Colbert, so that’s why I added it.”