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Campaigns in 2008 are very different from just four years ago.
An increasing number of candidates running for offices on every level across the country are turning to technology to reach new voters. Campaigns are using internet community networks like the popular Facebook and MySpace to attract these first time voters.
Candidates are still using traditional forms of advertising such as TV and newspaper ads in addition to mailers and flyers. But many young voters are not connected into prime-time television or traditional news services as they are with their computers. The Barack Obama campaign has even taken it a step further by placing advertisements on the screens of popular new video games that have hit the market in recent months.
The Missouri Democratic party has their own Facebook page, in addition to some of its members. Republican 4th Congressional District candidate Jeff Parnell has his own page.
Richmond resident Laura Alber said she has never thought about volunteering for a presidential campaign before now. Alber said she went to the Obama Web site and signed up. She said soon after someone from the Obama campaign contacted her to volunteer. Sen. McCain’s campaign is also using his Web site to get volunteers.
Cell phones are also playing a big part in getting new voters and volunteers.
Efforts to get new and young voters are working.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan released registration numbers for the state earlier this week. Carnahan’s office is reporting a record 4,205,774 Missourians are registered to vote next Tuesday. Carnahan is predicting that 76 percent of those voters will turn out or about 3.2 million people.
According to Ray County Registration Clerk Lori Nolker, 16,520 people are registered in Ray County. She said her office has received more than 400 new applications since the August primary election although she says some of those are people who are changing their address.
Carnahan reports that there are 340,000 first time voters in the state with 150,000 of them being young voters, ages 18-24. In Kansas City and St. Louis 40 percent of new voters are ages 18-24.
“Seeing so many young people around the state who are interested in this election is a wonderful thing for the future of Missouri and our country,” Carnahan said in a released statement.
According to figures provided by Carnahan’s office, there are a total of 1,510 new voters in Ray County – 477 or 32 percent are ages 18-24. The next highest percentage is voters 25-34. Ray County has 333 or 22 percent new voters in that range. By comparison, only 15 percent of new voters are over the age of 54.
Nolker said absentee ballots are coming in at a high rate. She said about 550 voters have already submitted ballots.
Yesterday was the last day to request an absentee ballot and all ballots must be received by Tuesday, Nolker said.