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Can 'March for Our Lives' become a march to the ballot box?

Experts say youth movements face uphill battle to translate passion into votes

PARKLAND, Fla. – Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Washington, D.C., and cities across the country this past weekend to urge more restrictions on guns, but can the "March for Our Lives" turn those young protesters into new voters?

"The march is not the climax of this movement. It is the beginning," student activist Cameron Kasky told marchers Saturday.

But pollsters like Florida International University's Eduardo Gamarra know that the youngest voting bloc has historically been the least reliable.

"History tells us – it's very difficult to sustain a movement like this," Gamarra said. "In the past unfortunately ‘potentials' have not really panned out at election time."

Those potentials, for the first time this year, have the power to become an electoral tsunami.  

According to the Center for American Progress, this year millennials -- generally viewed as people between 18 to 34 years old -- will outnumber baby boomers, the generation who have held the potential voter majority for past 40 years.

 

 

The League of Women Voters volunteered at events Saturday, harnessing the passion and registering marchers to vote.

"They were very much aware of the situation and very much understood  that their vote along with all of their peers could very much make a tipping point of this issue," said Susan Windmiller of the League of Women Voters. 

According to HeadCount, a nonpartisan organization that promotes participation in democracy, thousands of people may have already heeded that call. HeadCount says their volunteers registered more than 4,800 new voters at 30 "March for Our Lives" events nationwide on Saturday. And that number may end up being even higher.

"Those numbers are solely ink on paper," HeadCount spokesman Aaron Ghitelman told CNN. "That's not even counting people who may have gone online to register."

However, the passionate Parkland-led movement for gun safety has also peaked passion for gun-rights voters.

"There is going to be enough of a give-and-take, I think, ... to make elections in November interesting," Gamarra said.