Within a few years, as today's college students begin settling into their careers, starting families and buying homes, they will also begin feeling the full impact of the current federal policies. As a result, Vanessa Kerry, the daughter of Democratic presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, says it is vital for college-age voters to become more involved in the political process.
"Every vote counts and this is our future." said Kerry in a telephone interview.
Kerry, 27, was promoting the Missouri Call to Service Presidential Debate Project launched earlier this month by her father's campaign.
The project urges students at any of Missouri's two- or four-year higher education institutions to perform as many hours of community service as they can between now and Sept. 30. The two students who log the most service hours will each be awarded with a ticket to the Oct. 8 presidential debate between Sen. Kerry and Republican President George W. Bush at Washington University in St. Louis.
"We want young people to get involved in the political process, and the debates are an important part of that," Vanessa Kerry said.
Just about any type of community service qualifies, Kerry said, so long as it demonstrates a dedication to investing in one's community. Examples could include promoting recycling programs or involvement with mentoring groups such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Kerry said the college-age bloc has proven crucial in past presidential races, particularly in the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy and the 1992 election of Bill Clinton. Kerry said 2004 looks to be another year when younger voters could help influence the outcome.
"Obviously, I would like young people to vote for Dad, but this is about youth participation at large," Kerry said.
Applications for participation in the debate project are available at www.johnkerry.com/missouridebate. The forms must be submitted by noon on Sept. 30 to Victory 2004 headquarters at 3234 Laclede Station Road in St. Louis.