Increasing the youth vote, city councilor Sala Udin told a gathering at the University of Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, "is a marathon, not a sprint." Udin, among a panel of political activists, organizers and elected officials dissecting the 2004 election, may or may not have reassured the few dozen gathered for a post-mortem led by Pennsylvania Hip-Hop Political Convention chair Khari Mosley, and sponsored by Everybodyvote.com and Pittsburgh VIE (Voter Initiative + Education).
The increased youth vote likely carried Pennsylvania for John Kerry, according to a post-election CBS poll, which showed a 75 percent increase in 18-29 voters in the state compared to 2000. Sixty percent of that age group voted for Kerry, and they accounted for 21 percent of the Commonwealth vote.
But Celeste Taylor, Pittsburgh coordinator for the Election Protection watchdog group, said changes needed to be made in Allegheny County's voting system, which had the largest number of complaints on Election Protection's Election Day hotline (6,089). Our county beat out Florida's Broward County, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, which, though in fifth place, had more than 2,000 fewer complaints. The group counts almost 1,000 "incidents," most related to registration problems.
What were the other 5,000 complaints? Could they have merely been questions? The group's national office did not respond to several queries.
"This is a long-term struggle," Udin reiterated: Nelson Mandela organized the African National Congress from a jail cell for 27 years and emerged to become the head of South Africa, he concluded. Anyone looking for a short-term fix, he said facetiously, should try hard drugs.--