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Students take part in high-turnout election

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

In an election that reached a 30-year high point in voter turnout, young voters showed that they could crank up the heat as well.

The turnout rate for voters aged 18 to 24 rose by nearly 6 percentage points, reflecting 1.8 million more people in that age group than voted in the 2000 presidential election, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, which promotes research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.

The numbers were called indisputable by Phyllis Kaniss, national director of the Student Voices Project, in the wake of a widely published wire report that stated young voter turnout was down.

Student Voices, an initiative of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, joined with several local organizations to encourage 18-year-olds to register and vote. The specific participation by voting-eligible high school students could not be determined. But as a program that has been integrated into the social studies curriculum in 51 Philadelphia high schools this year, Student Voices seeks to have a long-term impact on civic participation.

"As important as it is to register and vote, we place equal emphasis on voter education," Kaniss said. "So students who went through Student Voices in Philadelphia this fall really got to know where their candidate stood on issues that were important to them."

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