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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
April 29, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General


Tracy Munford
609-341-3235 or

“Be Powerful, Be Heard - Vote, NJ!”
Are You a Poet?
The “Power of the Vote” Spoken Word Competition is May 14
for 16-21 Year Old New Jersey Residents

Finalists to Compete at New Jersey’s Hip-Hop Summit and winner will Audition for HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and appear on BET’s “Rap City”

Spoken Word Statewide Competition
2005 Voter Education Campaign Kick-Off Event Archived Streaming Video
The Power of the Vote
Spoken Word Competition
Home Page
Last Year's 2004 Hip-Hop Summit
(information and event video)

On Saturday, May 14, New Jersey students between the ages of 16 and 21 are invited to participate in the New Jersey “POWER OF THE VOTE” Spoken Word Competition at one of three sites across the state. The competition is part of the New Jersey “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD,” Voter Initiative.

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm, May 13. Auditions are being held beginning at 9 a.m., May 14, at Arts High School in Newark, Trenton Central High School in Trenton and Camden City High School in Camden. You do not have to be a student at a particular school in order to participate. Participants are encouraged to register in advance by completing an application, available on line at Walk-in’s are welcome, but pre-registration is encouraged.

Young people can participate in the Spoken Word Competition by creating and presenting a three minute poem about the importance of voting. Participants will be judged at the competition on May 14. The five winners from each site will compete at New Jersey’s second HIP-HOP SUMMIT with Russell Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) on September 30 in Trenton. The overall winner on September 30 will appear on Black Entertainment Television’s “Rap City,” and will have the opportunity to audition for Russell Simmons’ HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” In addition, the winner will participate in a Public Service Announcement about the importance of voting, which will air across New Jersey for the month of October preceding the New Jersey gubernatorial elections.

The Spoken Word Competition is a part of the State’s efforts pursuant to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. HAVA is a federal law providing resources to assist states in upgrading voting equipment, elections procedures and promoting voter education and outreach. Last year, New Jersey registered a record number of voters resulting in more than five million voters for the first time in the state’s history. Youth voters accounted for some of that increase as a result of the State’s efforts designed to educate and encourage young people to participate in the voting process.

The 2005 Youth Vote Initiative began with a student pep rally on April 5 at Perth Amboy High School with New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey; Commissioner of Education Dr. William Librera; Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas; Russell Simmons, Hot 97 Radio Personality Angie Martinez and a host of hip hop artists and state officials. (view Kick-Off Event Archived Streaming Video)

New Jersey has become the first state to utilize the popularity of hip-hop to motivate, encourage and educate young people about the importance of voting. Perth Amboy was chosen as the site for the kickoff of the 2005 “Be Powerful, Be Heard” youth voter initiative, in part, because of its historical significance to voting. The first African American to vote in the United States, following passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, was Thomas Mundy Peterson, who resided and cast that first vote in Perth Amboy.

“In 2004, we took bold steps to incorporate young people in the voting process,” said Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. “We raised the bar with a goal to educate and register an unprecedented number of voters. We surpassed our goal and our collective efforts, in partnership with HSAN, New Jersey colleges, universities and civic organizations, resulted in a record five million voters for the presidential election. This year, by partnering with our colleagues in the Department of Education, we are expanding our outreach to provide information and resources for high school students, college students and others, to become a part of the voting process.”

To register for the competition or for more information about the “Be Powerful, Be Heard” initiative visit

>> 2005 Voter Education Campaign Kick-Off Event Archived Streaming Video
>> The Power of the Vote Spoken Word Competition Home Page
>> Last Year's 2004 Hip-Hop Summit (information and event video)

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