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Cell Phones: The New Activist Tool
email this pageprint this pageemail usDana Wollman - Associated Press
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December 25, 2010



If you voted this fall, there’s a good chance you were texting about it.

Twenty-six percent of adult Americans used their cell phones to encourage others to vote in November’s mid-term elections or to report back on conditions at their local voting sites, among other political activities, according to a survey issued Thursday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

In particular, 14 percent said they used their phones to tell others that they voted, while 12 percent used their handsets to receive election updates. Another 1 percent used an election-themed app to keep posted.

If respondents used their phones to take photos and videos related to the election or contributed money to a campaign, they, too, were counted among the 26 percent who used their phones for political purposes during the election season.

Pew did not measure how likely cell phone users were to share their thoughts over social networks such as Facebook and Twitter — favored tools among many of the candidates running for office.

The November survey found that men and women were about as likely to use their phones to send political messages. But it reported more use of phones for politics among the young, affluent and college-educated. Pew also said its respondents voted equally for Democratic and Republican candidates.

Pew is quick to note that while the majority of American adults — 82 percent — own a cell phone, only 40 percent turned out to vote this year.

It also noted that this was the first time it had asked questions about use of cell phones in a mid-term election, so there are no comparable data for previous non-presidential elections.

The survey of 2,257 U.S. adults, including 1,918 cell phone users, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish and included calls to cell phone numbers, a technique that allows the inclusion of households that no longer have landline phones.




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