Surge in tweets urging the young to vote today

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Surge in tweets urging the young to vote today

A day before the by-elections, messages urging people to vote spread across social networking Web sites (SNS) such as Twitter.

“Complaining about politicians hundreds of times can’t be better than voting just one time,” a tweet said yesterday. Another tweet said “a person who votes goes to heaven and a person who gives up his or her voting right goes to hell.” Those two tweets were re-tweeted by hundreds of users yesterday.

A user named “aks0106” tweeted that “Under the Labor Standard Act’s Article 10, if a worker calls for ‘the time to vote in election,’ his or her employer can’t turn down the demand,” encouraging other users to vote before they go to the workplace.

Analysts say Twitter played a pivotal role in affecting the results of last June’s local elections. On election day, Twitter members continuously posted pictures showing them in voting booths, urging others to do the same. Celebrities such as novelist Lee Oi-soo and actress Park Jin-hui also tweeted that they voted.

The result of the online campaign through SNS surprised politicians - on the morning of election day, the turnout was lower than that of the local elections in 2006, but by the afternoon it rose dramatically to 54.5 percent, the largest in 15 years. The robust turnout, particularly of the young, resulted in the opposition Democratic Party’s victory, analysts said.

Experts say that although many younger people are indifferent to politics, they have a deep interest in political issues that directly affect their daily lives.

“Basically, tweeters are not concerned with major issues in politics, but they are sensitive to some issues,” said Ryu Seok-jin, a political science professor at Sogang University.

Ryu added that Twitter members want to vote not for democratic ideals, but for a sense of self-realization as citizens.


By Shim Seo-hyun [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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