If I'm not mistaken, text voting truly became popular in the United States with the hit reality series "American Idol," where host Ryan Seacrest encouraged viewers to call in at the end of every show to help their favorite contestant stay in the competition. Cingular customers were able to avoid landline busy signals by text messaging the word "vote" and identifying the contestant's four-digit number. Well, if text voting is good enough for TV, it's gotta be good enough for politics: "Want to vote? Text me now."
According to this News.com story, "A San Francisco voter-registration campaign [jointly produced by a new nonprofit called Mobile Voter and the city's Chinese-American Voter Education Committee] is one of the first efforts in the United States to take the surge of political activity that has emerged around e-mail and the Web and move it wholly to cell phones."
"Mobile politics" is already a common practice in many foreign countries, because the people spend quite a bit of time sending text messages and surf the Net on their phones. In fact, "Cell-phone text messages are widely given credit for tipping the scales in Spain's 2004 election, where 40 percent more messages were sent on Election Day than on an ordinary day, and young voters turned out in large numbers to help unseat the government."
If you've seen the massive number of young teens in the United States who have cell phones attached to their ears, and presidential elections start to recognize text message voting, it might be worth while to change the voting age, to say... 13?
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.