Jul 08, 2020

Study shows phone texting may turn out voters

A simple text message could make America’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, “young 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 didn’t receive a text message reminder.”

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 PIRGs’ New Voter Project — a non-profit youth voter mobilization drive — 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.

“The political system only represents those who participate,” Cline said. “If young people don’t vote and participate, they will lose out in the end – especially when it comes to Social Security.”

Cline said he believed there are two reasons people don’t vote.

“There are systematic things that cause people to not vote, such as voting times not being convenient or a lack of party mobilization,” Cline said.

“There are also individual things or personal reasons why people don’t vote, such as low education or lack of interest. Some don’t see the purpose or are just not interested in politics.”

Cline said it couldn’t hurt to send text messages to motivate people to vote.

“Some people say they don’t vote because they forget,” Cline said. “A text could be a helpful reminder and another kind of media to reach students.”

Mallory Hart, a 21-year-old registered voter and liberal studies major, said she didn’t need a reminder to vote.

“I always know the voting day,” Hart said. “You see a million commercials on TV around election time and random texts could get just as annoying.”

Nursing major Kaitlen Mills said text messaging to remind people to vote was not a bad idea.

“If I got a text message saying to go vote, I probably would,” Mills said. “I like voting. I feel more included but I only vote on things I know about.”

Mills, a 21-year-old registered voter, said there could be a down side to sending text reminders to voters.

“Texting to vote is not a bad idea, but the things that could come along with it could be,” Mills said. “It could turn into a new form of spamming. What could be next? The Pepsi Company texting you to go out and buy Pepsi products?”

Liberal studies major Sallie Crownover, 18, said a text message reminder to vote would be helpful as long as it wasn’t expensive.

“I would be worried about what it would cost to receive the text and if there would be an extra fee on my phone bill,” 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.

“Students have to engage the importance of voting on their own level,” Cline said.

“For some students, it just clicks. For others, sitting through a political science class is like a stint in jail – they serve their time and then they are off. We can reach some of the students some of the time – the others have to find out on their own.”

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