When elections roll around in November, it will be the first time most college students participate in a presidential election — an exciting and potentially overwhelming milestone.
In high school, social studies classes touched upon the elections and current events. Family dinners consisted of political conversation. Articles were read, newscasts were watched. But the days of actually being able to vote seemed distant.
Alas, it’s to vote, which comes with the responsibility: staying informed. With three months free of vigorous course loads, schoolwork and extra curricular activities, the summer is the perfect opportunity for college students to catch up on the election, candidates and issues.
Best of all, for a first chance to vote, it’s 2012 — access to information is easier than ever. From web versions of newspapers to smart phone apps, voices of candidates and media outlets are available in the palm of your hand at any given moment.
Of course, to get a full story or detailed information, traditional news sources are the perfect way to engage after reading short tidbits and statements on Twitter. Social media is a great tool keep updated — as long as you follow up by reading more into the issues.
With well over 15,000,000 followers, President Obama’s Twitter account, is run by his campaign staff (#Obama2012). His personal tweets are signed “-bo”.
The account keeps supporters posted about various campaign updates, voter registration reminders, personal stories and always attaches links to full articles. It also features a countdown to Election Day, promotes Dinner with Barack and often uploads images, charts and figures and campaign posters. The account encourages you to further follow the campaign with by following Michelle Obama and Joe Biden.
Of course, Obama’s opponent Mitt Romney is on the social media bandwagon as well. His Twitter account has just over 508,000 followers and often directs his tweets towards @JoeBiden and @BarackObama. He recently uploaded pictures with his wife, Ann, as well as images from campaign events. To read the buzz on his campaign via tweets from his supporters and other voters and politicians, you can search the hashtag #MITT2012.
Both presidential candidates do make attacks on each other’s policies and credentials via social media (as well as mainstream media such as commercials), which isn’t necessarily an effective campaign method, according to a USA TODAY College article.
For example, on May 18, @BarackObama tweeted, “Mitt Romney stands by what he said, ‘whatever it was’”.
Likewise, on May 11, @MittRomney tweeted “Since @BarackObama took office, millions of Americans have lost their homes and our economy remains stuck in neutral.”
Many of their tweets are positive, though, and are not just used to hinder each other’s credibility. Both candidates tweet about their wives, love for the country, own successes and goals for their presidency.
Other verified accounts to follow this campaign season are @TheDemocrats, @gopconference as well as accounts specifically focused on the election from your usual news sources like @ElectionsUSAT or @USATOnPolitics. Many individual journalists and columnists are beneficial to follow as well, especially if you already have favorites.
In general, Twitter is making the election process more accessible and personal — a convenient time for college students who are already using social media to become engaged. Tweet at candidates, utilize hashtags and feel a part of the election process so you’re informed and ready for Election Day.
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