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Text to win: SMS playing a larger role in US elections

Chris Ziegler

Despite skyrocketing growth, it's no secret that acceptance of text messaging in the US is still light years behind Europe and Asia. Countries around the world have been using SMS as a viable, effective method to get out the vote ahead of elections for years, and although we've seen sporadic efforts to do the same stateside, there has been no concentrated effort that has yielded tangible, measurable results. Of course, that's likely to change over the course of the next two or three presidential elections; young'uns in the US are far more likely than any other age group to send and receive text messages, after all, and those crafty politicians are always looking for exciting new ways to trumpet their agendas. Indeed, AFP points out that three Democratic candidates for the 2008 presidency -- Obama, Clinton, and Edwards -- have SMS short codes set up that let folks subscribe to campaign updates (interestingly, no Republican candidates have followed suit so far). A study by a Princeton grad student looking into technology in elections showed that people who were texted shortly before an election were a full four percent more likely to vote; while that doesn't sound like a big number, it's huge when you're talking about a national election where a single percent accounts for a million or more voters. Heck, who knows, in 20 years, we could all be voting by SMS, American Idol-style.

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