First Time Voters and the Politics of Facebook

I am an extremely proud mom this morning. Actually, I’m typically a proud mom, but today the feeling is fresh and shiny. Here you see a photo of my son Adam, after voting for the very first time. We woke early so that we could go together before school. I’ll admit to being at times overly emotional — today, I caught myself with a boulder-sized lump in my throat as my eighteen year old walked up to the polling personnel, stated his name and address and retrieved his ballot.

I pondered moms around the country whose sons are voting absentee because they are serving our country in the Armed Forces. I also pondered all of the eighteen year old sons out there whose parents could care less about voting and who are perhaps already lost to lives of destruction. Weighty stuff to ponder before a second cup of coffee, and yet today’s election seems to call us all to deep prayer and contemplation.

With our duty done, I came home to a fresh email from Pew Internet, giving the details of a report released just today. Social Media and Voting found the following:

On Election Day 2012, the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds social media to be a significant part of the process by which voters are talking about their ballot selections, especially younger voters:

  • 22% of registered voters have let others know how they voted on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter.

Social media platforms have also become a notable venue for people to try to convince their friends to vote.

  • 30% of registered voters have been encouraged to vote for Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney by family and friends via posts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • 20% of registered voters have encouraged others to vote by posting on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter.

As someone who’s been actually avoiding politics on Facebook for the past several weeks, I will admit that I’ll be thrilled when my Facebook feed goes back to photos of cute babies and kids playing soccer. As a veteran voter, I am not swayed – but perhaps sometimes actually put off by – the vitriolic rants that I’ve seen cropping up in my feeds. I hope that when today is behind us that we can all move forward with the business of repairing the divisive damage done by so much of the rhetoric.

As we watch the day play out, I’d love to know your voting preferences. Are you one – like my husband – who prefers to vote early and by mail from the comfort of your home? Or are you like me – an early morning polling place voter?


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