Mobile Future

Recap of the Mobile Future Elections Forum

Thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday for the Mobile Future Elections Forum on "How Mobile Technologies are Changing Elections."  If you weren’t able to attend, you can still watch C-SPAN’s coverage of the event by clinking on the link at the top of our home page

The event began with an introduction from our Chairman Jonathan Spalter and followed with a panel discussion and presentation from pollster Peter Hart.

Some interesting highlights from the discussion:

Mobile Future member Jed Alpert stressed how mobile technologies are the best form of communication to reach the most disenfranchised populations with a real-time channel of communications to voters. This November, Jed’s company, Mobile Commons, expects to send out 1 million text messages on Election Day on behalf of his clients.

Former Giuliani campaign official Katie Harbath discussed how campaigns need to go beyond just text messaging.  Mobile applications like Twitter and Qik really represent the next, important phase of communications because it enables rapid responses.  She hopes that the next class in the House and the Senate utilize these tools to connect with constituents and interact with the media.

Michelle Mayorga announced Rock the Vote’s new initiative with ChaCha, a free mobile answers service, to respond to voters questions via text message.  The ChaCha Guides will provide informed, non-partisan answers to questions like polling locations, voting deadlines, and even the candidates’ positions on issues from energy to taxation.

Casey O’Shea from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee explained that mobile technologies are not only crucial as a campaign tool but also as a government application.  During Hurricane Katrina when O’Shea was a Chief of Staff for a Louisiana representative, constituents who were trapped on their roof by the storm sent text messages to relatives who then called the congressional office to coordinate rescue efforts for their relatives.  It was the first time O’Shea truly realized the power of mobile technology and how it can save lives.

Finally, Peter Hart’s presentation explored the latest poll findings on the election and the economy.   He also discussed the effect that cell phone-only voters are having on polling. Because the sample of cell phone-only voters is a relatively new but growing part of the populace, pollsters are having trouble judging their effect on the polls but are working on ways to engage them.  Additionally, a number of researchers are attempting to predict and study the voter turn-out of cell phone-only users so that they can adjust the polls accordingly.

Just three weeks before the 2008 election, the forum provided the opportunity for a lively and timely discussion on mobile technologies and their effect on campaigns and politics.  Thanks to all who came to the event. We had a great time with it and look forward to holding more timely forums, so stay tuned.