Social Media Election Apps
Politics used to be an old man’s game. I mean, just look at the writers of the constitution. For years, it stayed that way. Then in the twenties, women got the right to vote and the game changed a little. But one of the last holdouts of the voting populace has not been by law, but by choice – or the lack thereof. For many years, the youth of America have not been nearly as actively involved in politics as the older generation. The 18-29 demographic turns out to polls about 14% less than those older than they. But that trend is changing. After a brief decline in the 90s, the youth vote is rising closer to the national average than ever before. And one of the reasons for this is the new focus on social media to promote the issues to those using the internet: the youth. One site attempts to offer an unbiased or at least user-driven) source for election information to the young demographic.
TheBallot.org, aimed at young voters, is one of the many new election apps that allows them to explore the election in the manner that they’re familiar with. Upon entering the site, potential voters can enter their address. The site then presents them with a list of applicable votes that they are eligible to cast, from local assembly people to statewide measures. From there, voters can explore the issues and read others’ opinions and see who has voted for what. They can use this information to register their vote and to leave comments for others to see. These responses can then be shared on Facebook or other social networking sites.
TheBallot.org was founded by the League of Young Voters (http://www.theleague.com). It was originally created for the 2008 election, but has not received much national attention. Their goal is to increase the youth vote by fostering a discussion of politics within that sphere. According to a study by UCSD, social networking like Facebook can have a massive effect on voter turnout. (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/sep/12/facebook-message-boosts-voter-turnout-ucsd-study/) In the study, a message was sent to 60 million facebook users, which resulted in 340,000 new voters coming to the polls. While the results may not seem particularly impressive, this study and others were able to conclude that peers’ comments on social networking sides had a noticeable effect on voter turnout. TheBallot.org is attempting to harness this power for the good of the community and voter awareness.
Photo used by permission:League of Women Voters of California