Political parties get creative with engaging activists and volunteers

FILE - In this May 21, 2013 file photo, a view of an iPhone in Washington showing the Twitter app, right, among others. Think of it as tweeting for dollars. The social media service Twitter on Tuesday introduced a feature that enables political candidates and advocacy groups to raise money directly via its mobile application, making it quicker and easier to harvest small donations from followers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Texas are trying to bridge innovation with engagement for future elections.

The Austin Political Hackathon was one way the Texas Democratic Party put participants’ tech skills to the test. People who attended the event focused on building creative voter engagement and local campaign tools.

“We want to show them — here are some positive uses of technology that can really advance progressive values,” Daniel Webb, the organizer of the Austin Political Hackathon, said.

Cliff Walker, the political director of the Texas Democratic Party, said ideas like this can hopefully inspire youth and young professionals to start getting involved.

“At the end of the day, there’s going to be some kid in San Antonio, some high school kid in Odessa, who are going to come up with the next great idea to help people get elected in the state of Texas,” Walker said.

Jamie Bennett, press secretary for the Republican Party of Texas, said their party actively works with local chapters of the Texas Young Republicans across the state. Bennett said there are also young conservatives in Texas involved with the Republican Leadership Initiative, a training program by the Republican National Committee.

“It’s giving young Republicans, as well as other activists, the tools they need to succeed on the ground,” Bennett said.

It’s a program Bennett wishes he had participated in while interning and volunteering in politics through college.

“I would’ve loved to have gotten some of the experience in college, in Texas, where I was already working,” he said.

The Texas Secretary of State’s office says right now, there are more than 1.6 million people between the ages of 18-24 currently able to vote and more than 340,000 of them were newly registered this year.

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