Maybe It's Your Civic Duty Not to Vote

Experts debate whether uninformed voters should head to the polls.

ByABC News
October 8, 2008, 1:09 PM

Oct. 9, 2008— -- We keep hearing how important it is for everyone to vote and that voting is our civic duty.

Celebrities like Christina Aguilera, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diddy and Dave Matthews urge everyone to get out and vote. And to help people vote, voter registration groups such as HeadCount deploy volunteers to sign people up.

Watch John Stossel's "Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics" at 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17.

HeadCount focuses on registering young people at rock concerts and music festivals around the country. During the concerts, famous musicians such as Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson implore their fans to sign up to vote. Marc Brownstein, the bassist for the band The Disco Biscuits and a co-founder of HeadCount, tells fans to "please participate this year by casting your vote!"

Brownstein and a friend, Andy Bernstein, co-founded HeadCount in 2004.

"We do this because we want the kids to be a part of the political process," Brownstein said.

Bernstein added, "We registered over 100,000 people. ... It is so imperative that this generation's voice is heard. And they are being heard."

But are these get-out-the-vote drives entirely a good thing? "20/20" asked some newly registered young people some basic questions about our government.

Some people were knowledgeable. "There are two senators from each state, making a total of 100," one young voter said. Another knew that "the Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution."

But many of the young voters didn't seem very informed. Some didn't know how many states are in the U.S. or how many senators there are. Few could explain Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling upholding abortion rights.

"Roe v. Wade is segregation maybe?" one new voter guessed.

Another asked: "Was Roe v. Wade where we declared bankruptcy?" And still another wondered, "That was about a black person and a white person?"

Brownstein said, "There's a lot of uninformed voters out there."

So should those uninformed voters just stay home?