Pubdate: Tue,  5 Nov 2002
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2002 Missoulian
Bookmark: (Nevadans for Responsible Law 


Voter Registration Among Young Low In Nevada, Despite Pot On Ballot

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Teenagers with spiked, green-dyed hair visited Clark 
County Registrar Larry Lomax's office last summer and grabbed handfuls of 
voter registration forms to sign up their friends.

Marijuana was officially on the Nevada ballot.

Lomax prepared his office for a rush of other young, new voters, expecting 
Question 9 - legalizing possession of up to 3 ounces of pot - to spur a 
flurry of political action from teens and 20-somethings.

It never came.

"A lot of people had thought that this was going to bring out a certain 
kind of voter," Lomax said. "It really hasn't come to pass."

Aside from an e-mail sent to some 2,000 attendees of the Burning Man 
counterculture festival in northern Nevada, there have been few efforts to 
organize young people on the issue.

Turnout for early voting was down among young people in Las Vegas and 
surrounding Clark County. Recent figures showed about 12 percent of early 
voters were younger than 35, compared with 16 percent in the 2000 general 

Meanwhile, people 55 and older - targeted by opponents of the measure - 
cast roughly half the early ballots in the county, compared with 42 percent 
two years ago.

Question 9 backers trying to put a positive spin on the numbers say they 
targeted first-time voters, not necessarily young people, in their $1.7 
million campaign.

"Our supporters range in age from 18 to as high as it goes," said Billy 
Rogers, who heads Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement.

Voters in nearby Arizona face a similar measure Tuesday, one that would 
decriminalize possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana for any user. The 
penalty would be a civil fine, something akin to a speeding ticket penalty.

Groups pushing marijuana initiatives in other states say middle-aged voters 
- - children of the freewheeling 1960s - have been key to their past success.

"There's a U-shaped curve in which the very young and the very old take the 
more conservative positions," said Bill Zimmerman of Campaign for New Drug 
Policies, a Washington-based group that favors the Nevada measure.

Zimmerman said older voters are comfortable with current law and less 
likely to have tried marijuana. He says people from 18 to 30 "have not yet 
really examined the public policy ramifications of current drug laws, and 
have a more knee-jerk reaction."
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