Television and film producer Norman Lear has joined forces with some of the Internet's most popular sites to encourage 18-year-olds to register and vote in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Although Lear has long been associated with Democratic politics, the Declare Yourself outreach campaign and Web site, http://www.DeclareYourself.com, will be non-partisan. Both are outgrowths of campaigns Lear sponsored in 2004 and 2006 to encourage young adults to vote.
The campaign is partnering with such popular online destinations as Yahoo!, MySpace, YouTube, Google, Friendster, Evite and Good Search to help drive to young people, particularly first-time voters, to the Declare Yourself Web site. There, visitors will be able to download voter registration information and forms, as well as obtain information on presidential candidates and their positions.
The campaign also includes such media partners as Clear Channel and Comedy Central.
Serving as spokespeople for the project are two young television stars, Golden Globe-winner America Ferrera, star of ABC's "Ugly Betty" series, and Hayden Panettiere, who plays a cheerleader who will not die on NBC's "Heroes" and who turns 18 this year.
"Those people we call our forefathers said loud and clear the success of this democratic experiment depended upon an informed and involved citizenry," said Lear, who owns an original copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Lear said he hopes to making registering to as much a "rite of passage" for young adults as getting a driver's license or buying alcohol legally.
While previous campaigns have helped register over 1 million voters, Lear said he expects to significantly exceed that number with the help of the broad range of Internet and media partnerships, which are new to the latest campaign.
Lear estimated the cost of the non-profit campaign at $4 million, which he expects to raise through corporate donations.