Survey says minimum wage issue likely to increase youth vote

(Plain Press, November 2006) Ohio voters ages 18-29 say they are more likely to vote because of the presence of a ballot issue on the Minimum Wage according to a survey just completed by high school social studies students.  State Issue 2 on the November 7th Ballot would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.85 per hour. The project, A Teachable Moment: The Minimum Wage and the Youth Vote, was designed “to help motivate students to become active engaged citizens,” says project director Michael Charney.

Students from Garrett Morgan on the Near West Side were among those participating in the survey. On October 25 four students from the school accompanied by Social Studies teacher Pippa Carter traveled to a press conference at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Cleveland to present their survey results. In addition to Garrett Morgan, Cleveland area participants in administering the survey included students in social studies classes at Martin Luther King, John Adams, Success Tech and Shaw high schools.

Garrett Morgan students brought the results of 338 surveys completed by students at the school.  Making the presentation at the press conference on behalf of Garrett Morgan were ninth grader Sydnei Sellers and 10th grader DaiJon Cephus. Their data showed that young voters surveyed were more likely to know the minimum wage issue was on the ballot than to know the names the two candidates for governor. 236 of the 338 people ages 18-29 surveyed knew that the minimum wage issue was on the ballot, while only 135 knew the names of both candidates for governor.

231 of 338 of the young people surveyed by the Garrett Morgan students said they were more likely to vote because the minimum wage issue was on the ballot. Students individually chose how they would do their interviews. Sellers, for example, said she did most of her surveys by phone. Cephus said he ventured to Tower City to do his interviews.

Martin Luther King Social Studies teacher Ernest Turner says over half of his eleventh and twelfth grade students that worked to compile surveys in the Hough neighborhood already worked out of economic necessity. He said some of the students were old enough to vote and felt trying to increase the minimum wage was an incentive to vote. Turner said about 80% of those surveyed by the students felt they would be more likely to vote because of the minimum wage issue.

Charney says that results of over 10,000 interviews compiled by students indicate “young people are more likely to be involved in politics when there is an issue that affects them.”

The project had an impact on the students doing the surveys as well. A number of students at the press conference indicated they want to vote all the time now because of their involvement in this project.

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