Voting and Elections

TXT OUT THE VOTE: Text Messaging Increases Voter Turnout

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 13, 2007

Text messaging works to get out the youth vote. Researchers from Princeton and Michigan Universities, together with the US Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) New Voter Project and Working Assets finally released a study of their text message mobilization efforts in the United States elections in November 2006. The fact sheet is here, the full study with the different forms of text reminders and outine of the methodology is attached.

The study found that text message reminders to new voters increased an individual’s likelihood of voting by 4.2 percentage points. This is an increase similar to "quality phone call" reminders but at a fraction of the cost, indicating that partisan and nonpartisan voter mobilization efforts need to urgently get on the mobile bandwagon.

Philippines' TXTPower turns 7

Posted by tonyo on Sep 07, 2007

TXTPower was born on Aug. 27, 2001, a few months after the People Power 2 revolt of mobile phone-wielding Filipinos. Six years into the future, TXTPower is now known as an advocate of consumer rights, civil liberties and the creative use of mobile phones for social change.

The group's convenors in 2001 never expected TXTPower to last longer than the campaign to protest the "free text reduction" implemented by telcos Smart and Globe.

Soon after the campaign that delayed the implementation of the "free text reduction" through court cases and high-profile protests, we continued and raised the level of TXTPower advocacy: We stood up against repeated attempts to impose a "text tax" -- culminating in the frontpage banner story that rocked Congress and compelled the Speaker to promise to the nation that no "text tax" will be enacted.

SIM card registration -- purportedly to address crime and terror -- is likewise another Frankenstein that refuses to die. But TXTPower is relentless in opposing it to preserve the right to privacy of the public.

Relooking at democractic processes in the light of new age technologies

Posted by vikaskanungo on Jul 27, 2007

The method of selecting representatives for presenting the view of a constituency was deployed at the time when internet and mobile technologies were not available and there was no method of making a collective decision on policies to government the society.

In today's times , most of the population have mobile phones that can be used by the citizens to communicate their opinion on important policy issues. Should not we therefore relook at the ways of people representation and amend the democratic processes accordingly?

The comments from readers are welcome to suggest innovative ways of making democracy more vibrant using mobile technologies where citizens can be continuously involved in policy decisions rather than voting once in five years.

Vikas Kanungo


Texting and Politics - The World Over

Posted by KatrinVerclas on May 16, 2007

In the United States, the political season is heating up and candidates are jumping on the mobile bandwagon. Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate, announced "Connect with Hillary" whereby supporters can get regular updates from the campaign via cell phone.  Meanwhile, another competitor for the Democratic seat, Senator John Edwards, is raising money for an ad campaign in the Washington Post, showing the support he garnered for ending the war in Iraq. The ad is here -- and noteworthy is the short code at the bottom of the ad - text "Iraq" to 30644 to show your support to end the war. (Thanks, TechPresident, for the pointer)


Strategy Guide #1, Using Mobile Phones in Electoral and Voter Registration Campaigns

Posted by Bonnie Bogle on Oct 15, 2006

Mobile phones have enormous potential in electoral, voter registration, and election monitoring campaigns.

With close to 2.5 billion phones in circulation around the world, in many countries mobile phones are the easiest and least expensive way to communicate and are far more pervasive than the Internet.

Internationally mobile phones have been used for systematic election monitoring in Macedonia and Kenya, among women voters in Saudi Arabia, and in a number of popular uprisings in the Ukraine and South Korea. In the 2004 U.S. election, almost 10,000 people started their voter registration process through a mobile campaign. This year the U.S. based group Mobile Voter aims to register 55,000 young people to vote via their cell phones.

While the use of mobile phones in elections and voter registration campaigns is still in an experimental stage, a lot has been learned about the characteristics of successful campaigns. In this guide we will share these findings with you, along with case studies, and other information organizations can use to run their own mobile campaigns.

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE. (Log-in required)

This guide was written by Michael Stein, a writer and Internet strategist, and edited by Katrin Verclas, the executive director of NTEN.

Read the press release.

MobileActive is a project of Green Media Toolshed. The MobileActive Strategy Guides were produced with the support of the Surdna Foundation, and in collaboreation with NTEN: Your Nonprofit Technology Community.

Vote 4 Me: Thoughts On Mobile Technology and Politics In the USA

Posted by justinoberman on Aug 02, 2006

As the power of the teenager and the text message is becoming more and more evident, some political campaigns and non-profits are betting that this new hip mobile technology can change American politics as well, as it has already proven to do so throughout the world. This, at least, is the gist of a Newsweek article published titled "Vote 4 Me."

The major point of the article is asking whether a teen trend can be "turned into a weapon of choice for politicos hoping to energize their constituents? Some strategists are betting it can: Where 2004 saw the great blog campaign, we are likely to be talking about the great text-messaging campaign of 2008, says Joe Trippi, who, as Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign manager, was a pioneer in the use of the Internet as a fundraising and organizing tool. The technology is right on the cusp of becoming very big.

MobileVoter Launches TxtVoter: A Do It Yourself SMS Voter Registration Drive

Posted by justinoberman on Jul 21, 2006

The news from MobileVoter just keeps comming. Ben Rigby have been working like mad and are today launching their TxtVoter Run Your Own Campaign tool.

Simply put TxtVoter allows individuals & organizations to reserve their own keywords which tie idirectly into MobileVoters very own voter registration system. Ultimely this allows anyone to create their own SMS Mobile Voter registration drive.

After that all you have to do is tell your target voters to text [your keyword] to 75444. After that the MobileVoter registation system kicks in. But of course you will also be able to send customized texts and online postcards.

The guys over at MobileVoter have even gone as far to provide tools that allow individual or organizations to create customizable PDF templates that feature the user's keywords - so that, for example, users can print out  materials to promote their voter registration drive

Hola! Mobile Voter!

Posted by justinoberman on Jul 20, 2006

Picture 8-2 Voto Latino, a non-partisan youth voter registration organization aimed at Latino youths has teamed up with Mobile Voter, a San Francisco non-profit dedicated to harnessing the power of text messaging and mobile technology to drive youth oriented voter registration. Apparently, the Latino group was so impressed by the way in which young Hispanics used text messages and SMS to rally at immigration protests this spring that they have made it their goal to sign up at least 35,000 Hispanic youths nationwide using Mobile Voter's SMS services .

Impeach, oust the fake Philippine president

Posted by tonyo on Jun 24, 2006

On Monday, June 26, people's organizations and prominent individuals will file an impeachment complaint against Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for crimes that include foisting a de facto dictatorship, curtailment of civil liberties, the mass killing of activists and other acts that aimed to cover-up her tracks in the fraud she committed in the 2004 elections. A vigil has been arranged jointly by the mass movement outside Congress and the congressional opposition so that the said impeachment complaint would be filed ahead of any sham impeachment complaint that may be lodged by allies of Mrs. Arroyo. (Last year, a lawyer was the first to file such a complaint, but it was so weak the opposition had to amend it. Congress rejected the amendments and voted on the basis of the lawyer's week complaint. Nobody wishes the lawyer to mke a repeat.) Mobile phones are endlessly buzzing, in an effort to mobilize thousands, if not tens of thousands, to form a human barricade just outside Congress. The barricade would start in the form of a vigil starting tonight, and ends with the filing of the impeachment complaint at the opening of Congress' office hours at 8:00 am tomorrow.

SMS delivers for Election Monitoring of the Montenegro Referendum on Independence

Posted by cspence on Jun 07, 2006

On May 21 the National Democratic Institute (NDI) provided technical assistance to a Montegrin NGO called the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) that successfully monitored their country's independence referendum using SMS as the primary observer reporting tool. We believe this is the first time an election monitoring group has employed text messaging to meet all election day reporting requirements. Details about the program follow.

General Information:

  • Election monitors from the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) in Montenegro conducted the first ever election monitoring project where SMS was used as the primary tool for reporting election information with NDI technical assistance.
  • 200 observers reported approximately 11 times each throughout the day including voter turnout and results data, transferring over 2000 reports to the reporting center in Podgorica. All reports were automatically entered into the reporting database where they were immediately included in analysis reports.



Did you get the one about the politician on your phone?

Posted by Bonnie Bogle on Jun 06, 2006

With the expansion of cell phone access and text messaging use, it was only a matter of time before it started – the SMS joke. And not surprisingly, few subjects are poked fun at more than local politics and of course the politicians.

"Da Vinci Code to be totally banned in the Philippines. GMA [Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] has been informed by Dan Brown that she is a direct descendant of Judas."

That’s one of the many SMS jokes being circulated throughout the Philippines making fun of the current president and her restrictive policies, among other things. Tonyo Cruz from TXTPower, and a MobileActive, passed on a bunch of the jokes that he’s seen sent around the country. You can read them all at the bottom of this post – thanks Tonyo!

The Philippines has been ahead of the curve in using cell phones for activism (remember the 2001 revolution and the Hello Garci ring tones), but SMS political jokes are spreading to other countries too. In Tamil Nadu, India, residents are sending out SMS jokes to make fun of the candidates from a recent election and their policies. One message circulating the region is an image of a candidate crying – supposedly showing her dismay at her party’s poor performance in the election. Another criticizes one party’s idea to give out “freebies,” saying that these practices will hurt businesses and make people lazy.

Joe Trippi on mobile phone campaign fundraising

Posted by mstein63 on Jun 05, 2006

Joe Trippi, the pioneer of Internet political campaigning with Howard Dean's 2004 presidential bid, shares his views on the next frontier in campaign technology for mobilization and fundraising in a May interview in Newsweek which is published on the website. "I think text messaging is going to be more important than ever. Look at the success of the pro-immigration campaign. We may be talking about the Great Text-Messaging Campaign of 2008, not the Great Blog Campaign."

SMS Messages in Use in the Thai Election

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Apr 10, 2006

SMS messages were in wide use in the recent Thai elections, both officially and inofficially. 

In preparation for Thailands snap election last week, Thailand's Election Commission sent text messages to 25 million cell phone customers politely reminding them to vote. The message read: "You are cordially invited to exercise your right to vote on February 6, between 8 am and 3 pm."

At the same time, the Nation, a Thai newspaper, reported recently on a text message campaign among voters urging them to bring a a pen with them to mark their ballots.

The SMS stated: "Don't use the rubber stamp provided [by the authorities] to prevent fakes. Tell all your friends too." 

Madrid train bombs

Posted by Simon Pavitt on Apr 02, 2006

On 11 March 2004, just before the Spanish general election, bombs exploded on 4 trains as they entered Madrid killing 200 people.

The Government hurredly put the blame on ETA, an organisation fighting for Basque independance from Spain. But many people assumed the bombs were a consequence of Spain's support for the war in Iraq and started gathering in the centre of Madrid.

News of the protests spread by mobile phone and more and more people joined, accusing the government of managing the release of information about the attacks to their own political ends. The national newspaper El Pais referred to "the more than dubious attitude of the government in relation to the lines of investigation". Eventually the Government was forced to admit that the explosions might have been caused Al-Qaeda.

In the election a couple of days later the ruling Partido Popular, which had been ahead in the polls, surprisingly lost to the socialist PSOE. As one person put it:

Getting Out the Vote in the US: TxtVoter and Mobile Voter

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Mar 22, 2006

mobile voter logo 

This campaign is powered by Mobile Voter and MobileActive Ben Rigby, supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts.