Republicans and Democrats are using phone apps to recruit

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The opening page of the GOP Envoy app
(Joshua Arief Halim / Daily Titan)

Three years ago CNN proclaimed the smartphone to be the “new political battleground” in America. Now, congressional candidates in the 39th District, Young Kim and Gil Cisneros, are using mobile phone apps to promote their campaigns for the Nov. 6 midterm election.

Kim, the Republican candidate, is using an app called GOP Envoy. The grassroots political campaigning application lets campaign volunteers send messages to people on their smartphone contact list to raise support for candidates.

The application keeps track of how many messages are sent and has a leaderboard for those who use the app.

Cisneros, the Democratic candidate, is using the application Voter Circle for his campaign, which allows voters in the district to send personal messages to people on their contact list and encourage them to vote, according to an email from Cory Irwin, the student outreach coordinator for Cisneros’ campaign.

GOP Envoy is being used in Republican campaigns across the country by incumbents and challengers alike. Representatives from Florida’s Carlos Curbelo (26th District) to Kentucky’s Andy Barr (6th District) are registered on the application in hopes to win very close toss-up races.

It didn’t take long for GOP Envoy to find itself in Orange County, where Cisneros and Kim are also in a close toss-up race. Even though the application is being used nationwide, Kim’s team has used it more than any other campaign, according to Jared Smith, the volunteer coordinator for the Kim for Congress campaign.

GOP Envoy has become one of the many tools employed by the National Republican Congressional Committee in hopes that the Republican Party can retain its majority in the House of Representatives after the upcoming midterm elections.

Those contacted through Voter Circle can sign up to be “digital canvassers” and send messages to people in their contact list, according to Irwin.

For the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican Party, these tools are necessary as midterm projections are becoming less and less favorable for Republicans. According to FiveThirtyEight, a database that analyzes political statistics, Republicans have only a 13.8 percent chance of keeping control of the 435-seat House.

During a CSUF Republicans meeting on Oct. 16, Young Kim said she will be sending text messages using the GOP Envoy application.

“I am challenging myself to beat anybody out there volunteering to do this, I’m going to send more texts than you do,” Kim said. “So I’m on it too, telling the voters ‘vote for Young Kim’ and why they should vote for Young Kim.”

Smith said that grassroots resources like this are important for trying to win office with limited funds.

“When our opponent (is) able to write big checks and he’s able to try to outspend us as much as he can, it’s gonna come down to grassroots and smart-spending money,” Smith said. “This is a really affordable way that we can reach out to voters.”

Irwin said the Voter Circle application matches the contacts to the actual voter profile.

“It ensures that they are reaching voters within the 39th,” Irwin said in an email.

Beyond its cost-effectiveness, GOP Envoy is also notable for its convenience. At the recent College Republicans meeting, Kim touted the app as an opportunity for citizens to support her campaign if they did not have time for traditional canvassing.

“Even as you are sitting in front of your professor lecturing you and you’re about to fall asleep,” Kim said. “Just pretend that you are studying and keep pressing the button telling the voters to vote for Young Kim.”

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