Extra Listening Practice 4 Script and Answer Key
Rock the Vote
Megan: Professor Dawkins, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for Newbury Secondary School’s student newspaper.
Mike: It’s my pleasure, Megan. And please, call me Mike.
Megan: Uh, OK. Thanks. Mike, as I explained when we arranged this interview, I want to ask you about the research that you and
other sociologists have been conducting on young people’s attitudes towards voting.
Mike: Before you start asking me questions, please let me ask you one: How would you describe your classmates’ attitudes
towards politics and voting?
Megan: Um, to be honest, most of my classmates aren’t interested in politics. And the few who are politically aware don’t seem to
have much respect for politicians. Still, some, including me, think that instead of just complaining about what politicians do or
don’t do, it’s important to get involved in trying to change things – especially once we turn 18 and become eligible to vote.
Mike: I wish there were more young people like you. But I’m afraid your classmates’ attitudes are very typical. The research that
has been conducted here in Britain indicates that young people have little interest in politics.
Megan: Have you got any statistics on the amount of young people – say, people under 19 or 20 – who are interested in politics,
and in voting?
Mike: Well, in a recent poll in Britain, about a third of the teenagers who were questioned said that they had no interest in
politics, and about a third said they had some interest. At the same time, though, fewer than ten per cent said that voting
Megan: So, you’re saying that although only a third of the participants are interested in politics, more than 90 per cent think that
there’s some point in voting, right?
Mike: That’s correct. And that’s why I think that there’s some hope that young people will eventually become more involved in
the political process. Perhaps once they’re 18 and able to vote, at least some youth will become interested enough in
politics to study the issues before they vote.
Megan: I remember reading that in recent years, more young voters have cast their votes for Pop Idol singers than in local elections.
Mike: Yes, sadly that may be true. I’m not sure what percentage of young people participated in voting for Pop Idol, but, for
instance, in local elections in Britain in 2003, only 11 per cent of eligible voters in the 18-24 year-old-age group voted.
Megan: Eleven per cent! That’s shockingly low! Now, um … I’m curious to know whether this same pattern also exists, say, in the
Mike: Well, interestingly, in the United States, the number of 18 to 24 year olds who vote has been increasing. Many people
credit organisations such as Rock the Vote with this.
Megan: I’ve heard of Rock the Vote. It was established by rock singers, wasn’t it?
Mike: That’s right. It’s an organisation based in the United States. It was started in 1990 by people in the music industry. Red
Hot Chili Peppers and Iggy Pop were among the first to get involved. Over the years, many more popular singers have
joined the campaign, and so have actors, comedians and artists. They appear all over the United States, encouraging
young people to vote, and they also make television and radio adverts.
Megan: Does Rock the Vote support any particular political party?
Mike: No, it’s a non-partisan organisation. Its only aim is to encourage young people to exercise their right to vote. And it’s had
quite an impact. For the 1992 US presidential elections, for instance, Rock the Vote was credited with getting 350,000
young voters to register for the first time, and with encouraging two million young voters to cast their votes. Now, amongst
those two million voters, there were youngsters who had registered to vote in the previous elections , but who hadn’t
voted in the end. This time, though, they decided to vote!
Megan: That’s quite an achievement! How did the number of young people who voted in the US presidential elections in 1992
compare to the 1988 elections?
Mike: An additional 20 per cent of youngsters voted in 1992 in comparison to 1988. The youth vote rose less dramatically
through the rest of the 1990s, but since 2000, there’s been another rise in the number of young people who vote. Rock
the Vote, by the way, is still going strong.
Megan: That’s great! Now, my next question is, um, has any of the research you’ve done indicated that young people would be
more likely to vote if they could do so online or via SMS instead of going to a voting booth?
Mike: There aren’t enough studies on this subject, so I can’t really give you an answer. But I can tell you that in 2003, when the
BBC interviewed 17 and 18 year olds on this issue, most of them said that they wouldn’t be willing to spend the 10 pence
that it costs to send an SMS. As for online voting, the Electoral Commission has been studying that possibility for years. It
seems like a good idea, but at the moment, it’s believed that it’s simply not secure enough to use online voting for general
elections. I know that it’s been tried on a small scale – in some US primary elections, and for some local tax votes in
Britain, as well as in recent parliamentary elections in Estonia … and for local referendums in parts of Switzerland. But I’m
afraid I don’t know whether online voting in these elections increased participation.
Megan: Well, my feeling is that if people want to vote, they’ll do so whether it’s online, via SMS, by post or in a voting booth in
Mike: Nevertheless, if voting could be done from home computers or mobile phones, maybe more people – especially young
people – would participate.
Megan: You may be right … Um, Mike – There’s another topic that I’d like to ask you about. I know you’ve conducted many
studies on teens and music and I’d like to …
Answers: 1. a 2. c 3. b 4. b 5. c 6. c 7. b 8. a