Rock the Vote

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Rock the Vote is a controversial left-wing organization, founded in 1990 in what the group claims was "a response to a wave of attacks on freedom of speech and artistic expression." They were once affiliated with the MTV network.

The stated goal of Rock the Vote's media campaigns and street team activities is to increase youth voter turnout. Rock the Vote coordinates voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote events, and voter education efforts, all with the intention of ensuring that young people take advantage of their right to vote.

Famously, in a 1994 Rock the Vote event that was aired on MTV, 17-year-old Laetitia Thompson asked President Bill Clinton, "Boxers or briefs?" After a brief moment of surprise, Clinton responded, "Usually briefs."

The organization is very controversial, as during the 2004 presidential election the group caused a storm of controversy by sending a mock draft notice to over 600,000 e-mail addresses. The message included the words "Selective Service System" and read "You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States, and to report to a polling place near you". A facsimile of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's signature appeared at the bottom of the message.

In addition, Rock the Vote created two public service announcements focused on the issue of the draft and a third celebrity-packed PSA that referred to the draft as one of many issues young voters might be concerned about. At least one of the draft-themed PSAs ran on MTV for 10 consecutive days in September 2004. Rock the Vote also has devoted a significant amount of content to the issue on its Web site. This the entire effort was to suggest that the draft might be reinstated if President George W. Bush was re-elected.

In a letter to Rock the Vote president Jehmu Greene, a Democratic Party activist, Ed Gillespie called Rock the Vote on "promoting a false and misleading campaign designed to scare America's youth into believing that they may be drafted to serve in the military." Gillespie's also pointed out that the "urban myth regarding a draft" had been "thoroughly debunked" by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld, Gillespie wrote: "This is the sort of malicious political deception that is likely to increase voter cynicism and in fact decrease the youth vote, as well as raising serious legal issues regarding the political motivations of your efforts." [1]


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