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Is social networking driving youth vote?

Site like Facebook's Election Pulse, plus email and IM campaigns may have a role in strong youth vote in election.
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Written by Richard Koman on
Everyone knows that young voters, in general, are the least likely to get out and vote. But social networking sites like Facebook are becoming the new tool for grassroots political organizing, reports the Los Angeles Times

Facebook, email and instant messaging are natural vehicles for young people to get educated about political issues and candidates. In September, Facebook set up Election Pulse — a rundown of Senate, House and governors' races.

"We wanted to do something to increase the political voice of the people on Facebook, a group that tends to be on the younger side of the electorate and which is often underrepresented in Washington and state capitals," said Ezra Callahan, project manager for the site's new politics initiative.

According to Facebook, more than 1,600 contenders for national and state offices have posted profiles to connect with young voters.

With previous data suggesting that students lag behind others in voting, some suspect that offering candidates profiles won't help students to get more involved in politics.

However, because students primarily use cellphones, not the landline phones that survey-takers call, an accurate count on whether students are involved in politics is inaccurate. A recent survey by Harvard University's Institute of Politics indicates that 32% of the nation's 18- to 24-year-olds will be voting in the midterm elections. That would be a record.

"Younger voters could make a difference in campaigns across the country," said Jeanne Shaheen, director of Harvard's Institute of Politics.

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