'Voting is for Old People'

That's the slogan printed on a T-shirt by Urban Outfitters, a retail clothier. The company, which stopped selling the shirt Friday, said it was not meant to be "misconstrued" as against voting. On its website, it notes the phrase has a "pinch of irony." But even with that too-subtle jest, the shirt belies an attitude certainly not worth promoting.

The T-shirt has raised the ire of voter mobilization groups, especially those interested in increasing voter turnout among young people. And Harvard University's Institute of Politics has written to the retailer, saying the shirt "makes the wrong statement at the wrong time to America's youth."

Young voters participate at an average of 40 percent the rate of those over 65. That's nothing to brag about. Efforts to increase the youth vote, such as the New Voters Project in Oregon, run up against the conclusions of many political consultants that the youth vote doesn't count for much in campaigns. And yet Democrats and Republicans can do more to woo the youth vote, as Howard Dean showed.

And retailers can do their bit, too.

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