Text Messaging Gets the Vote Out

An article in the New York Times recalls an important study from the Student PIRGs' New Voters Project and Working Assets, in
cooperation with researchers from the University of Michigan and
Princeton University, released a study demonstrating the
effectiveness of using text / SMS messages to mobile phones to mobilize
young voters in the November 2006 elections. The study found that text
message reminders to new voters increased an individual's likelihood of
voting by 4.2 percentage points.

The Study
On the day before the election in November 2006, researchers sent text message
voting reminders to over 4,000 mobile phone numbers chosen at random from a pool
of over 8,000 mostly young people who had completed voter registration applications.
Afterward, participants were matched to voter records to determine if they had voted
in the election, and a sample was surveyed to gauge their reaction to the messages.

Important Results

• Across the board, text message reminders increased the likelihood of an individual voting by 4.2 percentage points.

• Of the different messages tested, a short, to-the-point reminder
was most effective, with a boost of nearly 5 percentage points.

• In a follow up survey, 59% of recipients reported that the reminder was helpful, versus only 23% who found it bothersome.

• Hispanics had especially positive feelings about the reminders.

• At just $1.56 per additional vote generated, text messaging was extremely cost effectiv