A simple text message could make Americaâ€™s youth put down their cell phones and sprint for the polls.
According to a new study conducted by researchers from Princeton University and the University of Michigan, â€œyoung voters who were sent text message reminders to vote on the eve of Election Day 2006 were significantly more likely to vote than those who didnâ€™t receive a text message reminder.â€
The study reported that to-the-point reminder texts were most effective and resulted in a 5 percent increase in youth voter turnout. Reaching young people now and encouraging them to vote is important because 18 to 31-year-olds will represent more than one-third of the electorate by 2015, the study said.
The study used voter registration data from the Student PIRGsâ€™ New Voter Project â€” a non-profit youth voter mobilization drive â€” and worked in conjuction with Working Assets Wireless, a wireless telephone company.
Fresno State political science professor Kurt Cline stressed the importance of the youth vote.
â€œThe political system only represents those who participate,â€ Cline said. â€œIf young people donâ€™t vote and participate, they will lose out in the end â€“ especially when it comes to Social Security.â€
Cline said he believed there are two reasons people donâ€™t vote.
â€œThere are systematic things that cause people to not vote, such as voting times not being convenient or a lack of party mobilization,â€ Cline said.
â€œThere are also individual things or personal reasons why people donâ€™t vote, such as low education or lack of interest. Some donâ€™t see the purpose or are just not interested in politics.â€
Cline said it couldnâ€™t hurt to send text messages to motivate people to vote.
â€œSome people say they donâ€™t vote because they forget,â€ Cline said. â€œA text could be a helpful reminder and another kind of media to reach students.â€
Mallory Hart, a 21-year-old registered voter and liberal studies major, said she didnâ€™t need a reminder to vote.
â€œI always know the voting day,â€ Hart said. â€œYou see a million commercials on TV around election time and random texts could get just as annoying.â€
Nursing major Kaitlen Mills said text messaging to remind people to vote was not a bad idea.
â€œIf I got a text message saying to go vote, I probably would,â€ Mills said. â€œI like voting. I feel more included but I only vote on things I know about.â€
Mills, a 21-year-old registered voter, said there could be a down side to sending text reminders to voters.
â€œTexting to vote is not a bad idea, but the things that could come along with it could be,â€ Mills said. â€œIt could turn into a new form of spamming. What could be next? The Pepsi Company texting you to go out and buy Pepsi products?â€
Liberal studies major Sallie Crownover, 18, said a text message reminder to vote would be helpful as long as it wasnâ€™t expensive.
â€œI would be worried about what it would cost to receive the text and if there would be an extra fee on my phone bill,â€ Crownover said.
Regardless of cost, Cline said the best way to get students to vote was to reach out to them, either in a text, a classroom or a rally.
â€œStudents have to engage the importance of voting on their own level,â€ Cline said.
â€œFor some students, it just clicks. For others, sitting through a political science class is like a stint in jail â€“ they serve their time and then they are off. We can reach some of the students some of the time â€“ the others have to find out on their own.â€