Smartphones are constantly changing how we interact with the world around us – but they’re especially shaping our politics. Recent research shows that 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone of some kind, as opposed to just 35 percent in 2011. Take a look below to see what this means for you during election season.
1. You can register to vote online
This option takes voter registration to a new level of ease. While in the past you’ve had to do everything in person, a quick, two-minute trip to vote.org allows you to register to vote, check your registration status, and get your absentee ballot if you won’t be in town during the time of the election.
2. Finding your polling location is simpler than ever
In the past, it’s been a hassle to determine where and when you have to go to cast your vote on election day. Now, you can use the polling place locator on vote.org to see all the polling places available to you within your county, making voting easier than ever.
3. You can donate to campaigns with the click of a button
Is there a candidate you’re really passionate about? You can now donate to campaigns through candidates’ websites as easily as you make a purchase on Amazon. This feature has made possible numerous grassroots campaigns across the United States, allowing politics to truly be by the people, for the people.
4. The use of social media for political organization
The use of social media allows politicians to spread the word about issues they care about anytime of the day or night. Furthermore, you can easily get updates on campaign rallies, televised debates, and more with one quick scroll through your newsfeed.
5. Media makes politics more transparent
Everyone wants to believe in who they’re casting their ballot for – and that means trusting them. Luckily, social media has ensured that politicians are held accountable for both their words and actions at every step of the way, allowing you to know much more about the people you’re putting in office.
6. The prevalence of online advertising makes candidates more visible
Candidates can now make sure that just about everyone knows who they are with the availability of online advertising on media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The 2016 presidential elections saw the Trump campaign run about 6 million different ads, and it’s expected that political advertisers will spend almost $2 billion on digital ads this year alone.
7. Online advertising allows entities to meddle in elections
The positives of online advertising come with some negative effects. Because it’s so hard to keep track of who’s spending what on online advertising, there’s all the more opportunity for those
who wish to meddle in U.S. politics (like Russia in 2016) to shape electoral outcomes.
8. Increased access to candidate debates
In the past, Americans have had to crowd around their TV at a certain time in order to watch political debates. Now, these debates are more widely-available than ever before. From free streams hosted by online websites to YouTube videos that allow you to watch at your convenience, these important events are accessible to a greater amount of people than they’ve previously been.
9. Online platforms give candidates more creative ways to campaign
From Beto O’Rourke’s 24 hour live Facebook stream of his daily life to Donald Trump interacting with voters on Twitter, social media has allowed electoral candidates to be creative in their journeys to gain political support, effectively changing the way politicians interact with the electorate.
10. Most importantly, politics is now more accessible than ever before
Previously, politics has been a game run by and for small, homogeneous group of elites not representative of America’s beauty and diversity. Thankfully, with the sheer amount of information available online, the opportunities to be educated over the issues that affect us all are boundless, making political participation more accessible to the most amount of people than at any other point in time.