California last year became the first state to permit campaign contributions via text message, a move that was followed up by the Federal Election Commission in June, setting the stage for text-to-donate in national elections.
But the question is why. The purpose behind new policy is to allow
more people to participate in the electoral and political processes. The
idea is text message contributions will make it quicker and easier for
small dollar contributors to give. In addition, the belief is that it
will be the younger members of the electorate, who do not typically give
campaign donations, who will disproportionately take advantage of these
These are real and important goals. Younger
members of the electorate do not vote nearly as much as older members.
Perhaps if they buy in, both literally and figuratively, to the
electoral process they will feel compelled to make their voices heard at
the ballot box in greater numbers.
In addition, bringing in new contributors by allowing contributions
by text message could change the tone and substance of the debate. If
candidates feel that young people and/or small contributors are engaged
in the process, they could hear more from, and hence be more responsive
to, the concerns of more segments of the electorate.
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