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For immediate release:  Contact: Ben Kiser
Friday, November 9, 2001 402-471-8675

Secretary Gale Encourages Youth Voting with "Vote in Honor of Veteran"

Lincoln - Secretary of State John Gale is promoting the Vote in Honor of a Veteran program.  This program encourages high school students to develop life-long voting habits at the time they reach voting age by teaching them about the sacrifices made by veterans.

"As Veteran’s Day approaches we are all reminded of the tremendous sacrifices made by veterans throughout our history to protect our freedom and democracy including today’s men and women in the armed forces who are in harms way fighting the war on terrorism. Young people can learn from their commitment that it is important to participate in the electoral process" said Secretary Gale.

Across Nebraska and the country, a disturbing trend is becoming more apparent at election time.  Voter participation by 18 to 24 year olds has declined sharply in the last two decades.  The group of voters only turned out to vote by 20% in 1998, and the presidential election in 2000 was not much better.  This is a significant reduction from the 1970’s when this group voted by 55% or better.

Secretary Gale continued, "The future of our democracy rests with our young people. It is important we encourage them to become active citizens and consistent voters.  Vote in Honor of a Veteran can help affirm the importance of voting."

Vote in Honor of a Veteran was first started in Nebraska during the 2000 election cycle.  The Secretary of State’s office collects biographies from Nebraska veterans and distributes them to high school students who register to vote for the first time. The program is in the process of collecting more detailed biographies from Nebraska veterans for next year’s students.

Secretary Gale concluded, "By voting, all of us honor our veterans who fought to preserve our right to vote."