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Pokemon Go get votes

This is a smart idea.

Lazaros Sanchez, 25, often ventures to the Capitol on his lunch break. “There’s Pokémon all over the place,” he observed late Thursday morning after catching a Pokémon called Eevee.

Now politicians are jumping on the trend. State Rep. Rodney Anderson, a Grand Prairie Republican up for re-election this fall, [organized] a canvass [last] Saturday themed to the game.

Volunteers will knock on doors around a neighborhood in Irving, like usual, but the campaign is also advertising the event as an opportunity for Pokémon Go players to catch the digital creatures around the local park.

A Facebook event addresses “all Pokémon Trainers and Grass Roots Activists!” and offers that block walking “will be a great chance to find new Pokémon and hatch those eggs!” And, it adds, there are prizes, at least virtual ones — the campaign will reward the volunteers who catch the strongest and the most creatures with “PokéCoins,” the game’s online currency. (It includes a disclaimer that non-Pokémon Go players are also welcome.)

[…]

Anderson called his event this weekend “blending technology and some entertainment to say, ‘Hey, let’s come on out and say hi to voters.’” He has not played the game himself, but his young adult children play. “They grew up on this when they were 8, 9, 10 years old, now somebody’s come up with a way to keep them engaged,” Anderson said.

Reception to his block walk has been good so far — Anderson declined to quote one response he heard directly “because they put an adjective in front of brilliant” — though he said he has “no idea” what kind of turnout to expect. A handful of people have RSVP’d to the Facebook event.

“It’s something that grabs attention — hey, this is different — and we’ll be happy with whatever turnout that we have,” Anderson said.

I agree, this is a great idea whatever the turnout they ultimately get for it. They’ll need to ensure that the volunteers recruited by the prospect of hatching eggs stay on the main task of engaging voters, but they’ve given a reason for people who wouldn’t normally do this sort of thing to participate, and it’s a natural fit for Pokémon Go enthusiasts.

Here’s another example:

Since early July, Colorado Democrats have used the popular mobile game as a tool to register young voters ahead of the November elections.

It’s part of an effort to help Clinton move past the Philadelphia convention, and try and match the robust turnout of young voters that carried President Barack Obama to wins in 2008 and 2012; a challenge made more difficult by lingering support in Colorado for Clinton’s former rival Bernie Sanders.

“You have to meet people where they are,” said U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat and a Pokémon Go player. “It’s a great way to engage people.”

The set-up goes like this. Because Pokémon Go forces its players to visit real-world locations to capture digital creatures and advance in the game, state Democratic staff and volunteers have staked out certain hotspots — known as Pokéstops or Pokémon training gyms — to find unregistered voters.

Given that Pokémon Go players, also called trainers, tend to skew younger, the approach has given Democrats a target-rich environment to find potential supporters. Campaign officials said they’ve registered dozens of voters, at least, in the first few weeks of the program and plan to keep doing it.

“Organizers figured out that just going to these locations and starting conversations with players is a great way for to potentially find a lot of unregistered Coloradans and get them registered to vote,” wrote Meredith Thatcher, a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign in Colorado, in response to questions.

Again, this is a super idea. If campaigns aren’t thinking of ways to user Pokémon Go to get people to the polls in November, they’re missing an opportunity. I’m not a fan of Rep. Anderson, and his seat is one Democrats have a decent shot at winning, but I applaud his initiative, and I hope we can learn something from his results.

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