The Dominion Insitute's Democracy Project is trying to encourage young people to take an interest in the election campaign through an initiative called Youth Text 2008. It's a simple plan: connect young people to the political parties via text messaging.
Youth Text 2008 provides SMS short-codes for the four main national parties (all registered parties were invited, the insitute says), so young people can send questions directly to the parties from their cellphones - and get an answer within 24 hours. Texting the word "party" signs the user up to receive regular information and alerts from the party and the opportunity to take part in electronic polls.
The codes are:
Conservatives 898272 (TXTCPC)
Greens 898476 (TXTGRN)
Liberals 898542 (TXTLIB)
NDP 898637 (TXTNDP)
(The service is free, but standard text message charges would apply - check your cellphone plan.)
The Dominion Institute is a charitable organization founded in 1997 to promote civic participation and knowledge of Canadian history through such initiatives as the Memory Project, which preserves the stories of Canada's war veterans.
But for all the institute's work in attracting the attention of young people, it released a sobering survey today showing that fewer eligible young people intend to vote in this election than in 2006, when only 44 per cent of
peoplevoters under age 24 actually cast a vote.
MORE (WE MISSED IT THE FIRST TIME): The parties' attempts to reach voters through new media conduits is failing, according to another Dominion Institute survey that Political Decoder Linda Diebel wrote about last week. Just 9 per cent of respondents said the parties had reached out to voters through social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, according to the survey. Certainly most of the parties, with the exception of the Conservatives, were slow off the mark in adopting the new media approaches in this election - but that has changed over the course of the campaign. Maybe this is the campaign that gets the parties over the hump - strange as it may be to have to say that in 2008.