Students from across the UK are to receive text messages on their smartphones encouraging them to register to vote when they step foot on their campus.
The leading UK mobile networks are will now be working with the Electoral Commission in an attempt to encourage young people into polling stations. The target of this new attempt will be 18 to 24 year olds with a “geo-fencing system”, which sets a practical barrier around a certain area, such as a campus.
With this system students will receive a text on their phone once they step inside the geo-tagged location, which uses GPS to define the virtual area. The message will ask them to register to vote along with a link to the Electoral Commission’s voter registration page.
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Sheffield, Nottingham and Lancaster are some of the universities where this new geo-tagging system was launched on Tuesday. The system can “geo-fence” an area for a maximum of three days and can target as many as 30,000 locations per day.
Michael Abbott, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission, told The Times: “This opportunity with smartphones feels like a great way to talk to young people directly and put the message right into their hands.”
This new system has been launched as a result of changes made to the voter registration system by the government last year, which lead to nearly one million people disappearing from the electoral roll. Majority of those were mostly students and young people.
The campaign will also join forces with the National Union of Students (NUS) to launch Register a Friend. This is a viral campaign to encourage young people to get their friends to register to vote by sharing messages and photos on social media under the hashtag #regafriend.
Weve, a venture established by EE, Vodafone and O2 is managing the campaign and the messages can be sent only to those who have chosen to receive texts from their mobile operators.