Rock the Vote encourages young Americans to use their voice

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The Black Eyed Peas are among the celebrities who have been involved in Rock the Vote. Here, the members of the popular musical group accept the Patrick Lippert Award at the Rock the Vote Awards in Washington in 2005.

To vote or not to vote. That's a decision every teenager has to make.

Politicians crave votes from ever fickle youth, who in many elections do not vote. However, the youth vote is an important bloc of the electorate. It can make or break a presidential candidate.

Many pundits believe President Obama's courting of the young vote was the key to winning the 2008 presidential election.

Political campaigns usually devise their own strategy on how to reach young voters. But campaigns notwithstanding, several organizations reach out to citizens under the age of 25. One such organization is Rock the Vote.

Rock the Vote's primary aim is to register the next wave of young voters, and assist them in sharing their thoughts and opinions. They do this with the aid of ever-advancing technology using multiple techniques, including celebrities, the media, and social networking.

The impact of this organization has been tremendous. It has gotten more than five million teens to register and vote since its founding.In the 2008 presidential election, 2.5 million teenagers registered to vote.

Rock the Vote provides an easy way for teenagers to vote by having a link on its website and its Facebook page. They can register to vote with a click.

Rock the Vote was established in 1990 to tackle the age-old question; "Why do I vote if my voice doesn't matter?"

"I feel like so many teenagers feel as though their voices are unimportant," said Emily McVittie, a senior at Upper Dublin High School.

The organization's reach is unstoppable now with new technology. Social media are used by a majority of teens in America. They use it daily to voice their opinions, which normally go unheard in the world of politics.

Music stars and actors such as Madonna, Christina Aguilera, and the Black-Eyed Peas have been ambassadors of Rock the Vote and have encouraged youth to exercise their right to vote.

In March 2011, Democracy Day was started - a day devoted to teaching Rock the Votes policies in schools across America.

"Since the kick-off of Democracy Day, educators in more than 800 schools are teaching their students about voter registration and civic engagement," Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, said on Rock the Vote's website. Democracy Day was started with Darren Criss, a star of the hit TV show Glee, to excite teens about politics.

The media have enabled Rock the Vote to educate teens in political matters in interesting ways. Rock the Vote has collaborated with MTV to televise public service announcements and has a YouTube page. Many informational videos can be found on this page, with celebrity endorsements and videos of Democracy Day 2011. The newest frenzy is the use of social media to spread the cause.

Chrissy Faessen, vice president of communications and marketing for Rock the Vote, acknowledged that the new wave of social media networks, Twitter and Facebook, were increasingly important tools to reach the entire nation.

Rock the Vote has both a Twitter and a Facebook page to keep teens updated on international news, while also posting voting polls, chatter about coming elections, and new photos to spark curiosity about the organization.

"This presents young people with an opportunity to speak up and have a voice," McVittie said.

Twitter has made Rock the Vote's partnership with artists easier since an ever-growing number of celebrities use Twitter. By tweeting to celebrities, business tycoons, politicians, and especially teenagers, everyone can communicate about many things, including politics and the importance of voting.

Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, was recently quoted on the Rock the Vote website saying, "The candidate that figures out how to address the issues and frustrations of young Americans in a meaningful way is going to earn their vote in 2012."