Swipe Right If You Love Democracy: How NC Voting Groups Are Using Dating Apps

Dating apps and voting? Youth voter orgs in North Carolina are using the ubiquitous apps to make-inroads in voter participation. (Shutterstock)

By Michael McElroy

February 28, 2022

NextGen America, a voting organization that helped mobilize 4.6 million young voters two years ago, will bring their North Carolina outreach to Tinder, Bumble and Hinge.

Many young adults turned to dating apps in record numbers during the pandemic, looking for love, friendship or someone who just shares their point of view.

 Now, it’s also where they can find out when, how and where to vote in North Carolina.

NextGen America, a voting organization that helped mobilize 4.6 million young voters in 2020, will bring their outreach to Tinder, Bumble and Hinge, hoping to continue their exclusive focus on 18 to 35 year olds.

“We think that dating and democracy go together,” Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, NextGen’s president, told Cardinal & Pine in an interview Thursday.

“These are all real conversations with real people in their own communities,” she said, “about what [they] care about and who [they] are.”

The effort is part of a much larger effort to register close to 25,000 young people in North Carolina and reach up to 2.6 million young voters in the state for the 2022 midterm elections, Tzintzún Ramirez said.

NextGen volunteers have set up profiles on these sites and, while very clearly stating who they are and why they are there, Tzintzún Ramirez said, will reach out to people in the 18-35 group to engage them as they would in any other forum. NextGen already has similar programs on some gaming sites, she said, and is very active on social media.

“We’ll go anywhere young people are,” she said, and a dating app “is just a natural place for us to be.”

After identifying themselves, the volunteers will send to willing respondents links to voter registration sites and issues forums and help them find their local voting districts and other information.

“We’re really clear and upfront with people about why we’re talking to them,” Tzintzún Ramirez said. 

Finding Voters Through Dating  

The dating app focus is an extension of a trial program NextGen introduced in Arizona during the 2020 elections, the group said. 

Though NextGen did not have specific data for the number of voters registered through the dating apps, the organization used them to contact “several thousand” people in Arizona as part of its overall efforts to register 10,553 Arizonans. Kristi Johnson, the national press secretary for NextGen said in an email.

The dating app effort has now moved to North Carolina, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. 

“We are often the only organization that will reach them and tell them about the voting process,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.“It’s not that they [young voters] don’t care, it’s that they don’t know.”

The 2022 elections include races for the U.S. Senate and NC Supreme Court seats and the potential control of the state legislature, where major decisions on healthcare, education and public safety will be decided. 

Tzintzún Ramirez said that through all of NextGen’s outreach efforts, the group hoped to register close to 25,000 young people in North Carolina and reach up to 2.6 million young voters in the 2022 midterm elections. 

“There isn’t just one tactic,” she said, “to turn people out.” It takes texting, knocking on doors, social media campaigns, mailings, and now dating sites, to connect with such an important voting bloc.  

There are 65 million young voters in the United States, said, “and they have the power to determine the future of North Carolina and our entire country.”

Visit the North Carolina Board of Elections here for information about registering to vote online, by mail or in person. 


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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