09 November 2010

Social Media and the Elections

I was hoping to have something profound to say about social networking and last week's mid-term elections, like people using Twitter to report voter intimidation and election fraud.

And there was a hashtag - #EP2010 (did you know about it? I didn't) - and a Twitter account for Election Protection, a non-partisan nonprofit dedicated to protecting the right to vote (unlike this totally sketchy Republican front organization).

But so far I haven't seen anything major come out.

Obviously, #election and #IVoted were both hot topics on Twitter on Nov 2, and many of us woke up (or at least woke up our computers) to discover the Facebook Elections app running the self-reported tally of how many people on FB had voted. Of course, if you closed it, you couldn't get it back, but it was still very cool.

And Foursquare offered an election badge that its founder believes will increase real-world participation. 

As a political scientist by training, civic participation is a huge issue for me.  I missed the 1988 elections by 4 months and was very disappointed, and I've voted in every election since, even when it required old school send-your-request-through-the-US-mail-months-before-the-election style absentee ballots. So anything that increases turnout is aces in my book.

What about you? Did social media in any way affect your propensity to vote last week? Change who you voted for? Increase (or decrease) your level of knowledge about the candidates and ballot issues? Change the way you followed the returns?

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