Photo Courtesy of Foursquare

Currently, I’m teaching American National Government at Misericordia University, and this has been just as much a learning experience for me as it has been for my students.  When the class first started, I told my students that along with meeting the University’s goals, I have several outcomes for the course too.  I want them to:

  • Vote
  • Know the issues
  • Evaluate their sources of information
  • Understand the values that they bring with them to the polls

In each of my classes (I’ve taught two so far), I explain not only the foundations of the government and the political process but I also explain the origins of the Articles of Confederation and the evolution of the Constitution of the United States, with a focus on the events that lead to the right to vote for women and minorities.

This semester, one of the more interesting discussions in this course has been about how social media has changed politics.  People who were not otherwise engaged in politics have become more involved due to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and, now, Foursquare.  Foursquare is a location~based mobile application that allows users to “check in” to venues and collect virtual badges.

On Wednesday, Foursquare announced that it’s offering an “I Voted” badge for everyone who “checks in” from their polling place on Tuesday,  2 November. In order to unlock the special “I Voted” badge, users have to give a “shout out” from one of the 107,000 polling places using the “#ivoted” hashtag.

According to the announcement, Foursquare created the badge for three reasons: “to encourage civic participation, increase transparency in the voting process and develop a replicatable system for the 2012 Presidential election.”  No matter what your political affiliation, I ask you to please take the time to vote.  Do not let the “talking heads” on television or the radio make you believe that your vote doesn’t count.  It does.  And after you vote, check in with the hashtag #ivoted so everyone knows that you made a difference.