Politicizing Generation Text

With elections on the horizon, voter-prep goes high-tech to reach young citizens


| September 7, 2006


If you've seen the blur of teenagers' thumbs punching out dispatches on cell phones, you know that young people haves been the quickest to pick up on the text-messaging trend. The service allows for communication in locations and situations previously unimaginable, from movie theaters to classrooms. And while such uses can be endlessly annoying, some folks have found ways to mine the new technology for the loftier goal of political engagement.

In Johnson County, Kansas, the election commissioner plans to increase young voter turnout with a service that sends reminders of election dates, writes Finn Bullers of the daily Kansas City Star. The service also will send notice of advance voting or polling place changes to cell phones, computers, or iPods. It's likely a smart way to reach a demographic that's historically proven difficult to mobilize on Election Day. So far, says Bullers, about 150 voters have signed up for text messages and podcasts on the Johnson County website.

The tack isn't limited to young people, or Kansas. Working Assets, a socially conscious communications company, has created a 'Your Vote Matters' campaign to bring voter registration to mobile technology. Future voters can register by text-message or online at govote.org, and send a registration reminder to friends' phones. The nonpartisan system works in most states excluding North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Wyoming.

Go there >> Election Alerts Aimed at Youth

Go there too >> Govote.org

Related Links from the Utne Archive: