Study: Texting boosts young voter turnout

Young people are more likely to vote when they receive a text-message reminder, according to new research.

Text-message spam may go up this November for voter-age youth.

Turns out that young people are more likely to vote when they receive a text-message reminder, according to a new study published this month by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Michigan.

The researchers ran their test in the November 2006 election, with text reminders sent to roughly 4,000 young voters. Researchers pulled data and cell phone numbers from voter registration records at the Student PIRG's New Voters Project and Working Assets Wireless; and following the election, they matched the files to find out which registrants had voted.

The study showed that voter turnout rates rose by 4 percent in the sample group of young people who had received a text message to vote. According to the study, short, to-the-point reminders were most effective, with a rise of nearly 5 percentage points.

But in a follow-up survey, nearly a quarter of the respondents said the messages were annoying just like you might expect from unsolicited messages. About 59 percent said the texts were helpful. That percentage could be hopeful news for campaigners this fall, especially considering that the study pegged the added cost per vote at $1.56, compared with about $30 for door-to-door canvassing.

About the author

    Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.


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