Hopefuls use social media to digitally press the flesh with voters

GREENFIELD — Though yard signs are just beginning to dot yards and roadsides in Hancock County, the names and faces of local candidates have been scrolling across smartphone displays and computer screens for months now in a trend that’s changing the way candidates reach voters.

Facebook is being tapped by local candidates as a way to spread their message and gain support for the May 6 primary election. While most aren’t ditching traditional forms of campaigning, they say the obvious trend toward spreading information online is something that can’t be ignored in the race for the popular vote.

“Facebook ‘likes’ do not vote, but the people who ‘like’ do,” said incumbent Prosecutor Michael Griffin, pointing to the 1,676 followers of his campaign page. “I hope that is some indication of approval on the job we’ve been doing.”

And if Facebook “likes” could vote, Griffin would be well ahead of his challenger. Brent Eaton has only a quarter of the Facebook followers. But both acknowledge that while the social media site is a tool to reach out to potential voters, it’s not the only means of earning the Republican nomination.

“It’s like anything: I don’t think it’s wise to rely on any one medium exclusively,” said Eaton. “You want to try to have some overlaps to reach people in different ways.”

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