High Turnout Expected in Elections 2013, Thanks to Social Media and Cell Phones

400685_620609734634447_81198723_nIt is a proven fact that trend in close-online-friends and the status updates from brands and community pages — that individuals follow — help boost turnout in elections.

USA and other regions have already seen the difference and influence that online social networking websites can make on political behaviour in the real world.

Experts in west believe that reminder call for voting on Election day can be crucial. A group of researchers from University of California, San Diego, said – in a report published in Nature Magazine — that status updates on Facebook and Twitter on Election day can push voters to go out and caste their vote. They estimated that chances of casting a vote increases by 60 percent if a close friend(s) talks about casting a vote on social media website.

“Social influence made all the difference in political mobilisation,” said lead author James Fowler of UC San Diego.

Increased usage of social media in Pakistan, coupled with huge – politically motivated – SMS traffic are going to exert the similar impact on Pakistani voters as well.

Interestingly, all major brands – local and multinational – are channelizing their efforts to put pressure on voters to get out of their home on Election day. Same goes for all those large community pages from Pakistan on Facebook – having millions of fan following – pushing the users to go out and vote on May 11th.

Users reported 90 percent plus updates on Facebook and Twitter about Elections in their feeds today, hinting a good turnout this elections.

Experts believe that governance issues during previous government is another key reason for high turnout, however, political mobilization was never possible without the input from social media websites.

A digital media expert at a cellular firm, while speaking with ProPakistani, said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was first political party that took social media seriously. He said that trend was soon replicated by other political parties resulting into notable political activity on Facebook and other social networking websites.

“All this happened in previous two to three years. But see the influence and impact of these social media websites that we will have more voters on May 11th, 2013 than ever before”, he maintained.

Text messages are another medium used to recall the voters about the Election. Industry sources confirm that SMS traffic during last two weeks of election crossed 1 billion messages per day – which is usually 300 million to 400 million per day.

These text messages – sent in roman Urdu and unicide too – are also reaching those who are not connected to internet and those who can’t even read or understand English.

While we are yet to get the exact figures on voters’ turnout, but if experts are to be believed then a higher turnout is expected tomorrow.

Just a note, the job isn’t over yet. Keep updating your Facebook and Twitter feeds with pro-voting status to pressurize your lazy friends to go out of their comfort zones and to Vote!

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK