Texting Becomes Political Tool For Young People

With the Texas primaries less than a week away, students at the University of St. Thomas are trying a new way to get young voters to the polls. They’re part of a national effort that uses text messages to get the word out about important election days. Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports.

“You sign-up on this computer, you get a free text-message reminder on the day of elections to remind you to go vote. It’s absolutely free and so if you want to do it, we have a computer right here.”

The University of St. Thomas effort is part of a larger campaign called Rock the Vote that uses what’s known as viral text messaging to spread the word about voting. Students are asked to text ten of their friends to remind them to vote in the primaries. Josh Gautreau is the president of the St. Thomas Government Association.

“This works because it sends a text message directly to the student. It’s an easy way to get to you on the fly. Students are on the go all the time. They don’t have access to their desktop computers during the day. Usually they’re out with their friends, so text messages sent directly to your phone is great to have, just to remind you right there on the spot.”

“It takes about 30 seconds right here or you can go on the internet website. It will send you text messages for the national elections as well. It takes seriously 30 seconds. Oh, and you get free Pop Rocks.”

Pop Rocks aside, students like sophomore Nicholas Montes say texting is the way young people communicate these days.

“Most kids now days, they have a phone and the have the message and most of the time the message will be saved in the phone and people will read it. If it registered in their minds that they read it, it will be in their mind to go and say, yes, that’s one thing I should do. For me, whenever friends text message me about a dinner or lets go do something, it’s in my mind that it’s in there so I should go back to look at it. Something I need to do.”  

The Rock the Vote campaign is a partnership with AT&T, which is providing the texting platform for the effort. The company’s Dan Feldstein says texting is a quick and easy way to remind young people to vote.

“This is how they communicate. The number of text messages that get sent in the country is phenomenal. That’s how you find them. That’s how they communicate with each other day and night and communication and connectivity is the key.” 

More than ever, candidates in this election are using alternate ways to attract votes and encourage voter turn-out. The Rock the Vote campaign in non-partisan. You can find out more about it through a link on our website,