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Groups use Net to register voters

Voting advocacy group Rock the Vote, the AARP, and MCI launch a project to get people of various generations to register to vote online.

    Though voting online might be a long way off, use of the Net for related activities has gotten a boost with the launch of a new online voter registration program.

    Voting advocacy group Rock the Vote, the AARP, and MCI Communications yesterday announced a project aimed at getting people of various generations to use the Internet to register to vote.

    "NetVote '98 is a one-of-a-kind partnership linking generations, young and old, through the powerful combination of civic participation and our latest technology," says a posting on the NetVote '98 Web site. "Voting in the United States is not just a right of citizenship, it is also a responsibility. We've made it even easier to register. It's now up to you to participate."

    The project, also known as "Rock the Ages," is employing celebrities, radio stations, volunteers from Rock the Vote and the AARP, and various Web sites to encourage people to register, vote, and spread the word, the organizations said.

    "To be heard, all citizens, young and old, should be engaged in the political process. That starts by registering to vote," actor William Baldwin said in a statement. Baldwin is president of the Creative Coalition, an organization that seeks to raise awareness within the arts and entertainment community about political and social issues.

    Rock the Vote said that because of a simplified voter registration law allowing a uniform registration form in most states, NetVote '98 lets voters easily register from any computer with Internet access. A completed registration form is then mailed to the individual to sign.

    "It's no secret that young Americans aren't showing up at the polls in the same numbers as their parents and grandparents. Youth turnout averages around 30 percent. NetVote'98 is an important vehicle for empowering young adults by providing them ready access to registration, the requisite first step toward voting," Seth Matlins, president of Rock the Vote, said in a statement.

    NetVote'98 follows voter awareness program NetVote'96, which registered nearly 50,000 voters, according to Rock the Vote.

    Rock the Vote was created in 1990 by members of the music industry to encourage young people to participate in the political process. The group is planning to launch Rock the Nation, a "public education campaign to engage young people in the civic lives of their communities," on July 2.