Although Twitter, Facebook and iPhones existed four years ago, this is the first presidential election that truly feels like it is taking place in the age of social media and mobile apps. I still feel like a special line was crossed when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s Twitter feeds starting directing @-replying one another after months of dancing around it. The world of politics has never felt so close and so dirty. For the first time, being involved in politics means monitoring the direct, tiny actions of the candidates through our online world.
Although both candidates have their own personal apps, they are using other apps to assist in tomorrow’s Election Day activities!
First, there’s Obama’s newly launched mobile poll-watching app called, uh, Mobile Pollwatching. What makes Mobile Pollwatching interesting is that it’s not something you can just download from iTunes — it’s a mobile app designed to be used exclusively by the Obama campaign. With the app equipped on their trusty tablets, pollwatchers can check-in registered Democrats as they arrive to cast their votes and funnel the information back to headquarters, where the numbers people can do their numbers watching. It’s an interesting concept for those used to using apps meant for public consumption (as well as those who create those apps). What does it look like? How does it work? Since the public doesn’t have to see or pay for it, does it have to look nice?
In any case, it sounds like a great idea…but sorry Mr. President, Mitt Romney beat you out of the gate on this one, announcing his poll-watching app a few days ago. Unlike Obama’s app, Romney’s doesn’t have a name (at least not one known to us!), but it appears to have the same functionality: check in Republicans, send data back to HQ, etc.
But what if you’re not a Republican or a Democrat and therefore may not have the chance to encounter either of these apps firsthand? Well, you can still be involved! Like they did in 2008, YouTube is encouraging people to “video their vote” and act as temporary citizen journalists, letting others know what the process is like, how crowded it is and, if it comes to it, capture wrong-doing. Ah, digital Democracy!