Future Voters Against Bush has come a long way in a short time. Founded in mid-May by two Columbia 13-year-olds, the organization is now sparking the interest of teenagers across the country.
“We were hoping we could make a difference,” said Lucia Bourgeois, one of the group’s co-founders. “We were hoping we could change some minds and hoping we could get the word out.”
In the last month, Future Voters Against Bush has gone national by adding groups in California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Michigan.
“People from other states liked what we were doing, and they wanted to be a part of it,” said Jennifer Good, the group’s other co-founder. “Some of them are cousins, or friends that moved, people we know in other states. Other people have followed the link on our Web site and e-mailed us saying they want to get involved.”
According to Susan DiPietre, manager of Columbia’s Republican headquarters, there are no local organizations for Republicans too young to vote. Even so, she is impressed by the number of teenagers coming through her door.
“The teenagers are excited,” she said. “They’re stopping in, picking up bumper stickers, stickers for their lockers, and signs for their front lawn.”
Though it will be another five years before they can cast their own ballots, the Future Voters Against Bush are finding other ways to make their voices heard. They’ve been guest speakers at Columbia Youth Alliance meetings. And they’ve set up booths in front of Democratic headquarters and been to rallies passing out stickers and selling anti-Bush T-shirts. They even have their own Web site.
Five Future Voters were working the phones recently at Columbia’s Democratic headquarters encouraging people to vote in the coming presidential election.
“We can’t vote, but we all know people who do,” Good said. “Maybe we can get them talking about the issues before they make their choice.”
For today, at least, the Future Voters see their youth working to their advantage.
“When I tell people I’m 13, I think they want to listen to me because they know I’m not just another telemarketer,” Good said. “We don’t want to be seen as angry teenagers, we just want to get our ideas across.”
In spite of their group’s success, Bourgeois and Good remain realistic.
“Maybe I haven’t really changed anyone’s mind, but I have convinced people to vote,” Bourgeois said. “That’s a start.”