Registering To Vote Is Now Just A Text Away

Registering To Vote Is Now Just A Text Away

A new bot aims to mobilize underrepresented groups this election season through SMS and Facebook Messenger

Jennifer Passas
  • 30 september 2016

With the US election just around the corner all eligible voters are being reminded to register to vote. With state deadlines for voter registration just weeks away a new bot called HelloVote created by the digital rights nonprofit Fight for the Future is hoping to empower the entire US electorate to cast its vote. Text messages have an astounding open rate of 98 percent and the average adult spends 23 hours a week texting, so the potential for voters to register through text or Facebook Messenger is promising.

To work the bot, voters can go to the HelloVote site, Facebook Messenger or text 384-387 to get the ball rolling. HelloVote takes care of the rest by asking for important information such as name, address and birthdate. Some states require a signature on a registration form, which HelloVote recognizes and is able to send voters a prepaid stamped envelope to get the signature.

Giving personal information over a text bot may make many voters shy to use the service, but cofounder Elana Berkowitz has insisted that the data is encrypted and that the bot does not store any of the sensitive information provided. The only data that HelloVote files away is the information needed to reach back out to voters to remind them of Election Day and where their local polling station is.

HelloVote has a number of launch partners including Genius, Refinery29, General Assembly, West Elm, and the Shade Room, all of which are going the help spread the word about the bot with either physical signage in stores or online advertising. It is important to note that none of the partner brands will have any access to the personal information collection to HelloVote.

With such an important election looming, HelloVote is hoping to capture—according to census data—the 33 percent of eligible voters that are not registered. It also hopes to mobilize underrepresented groups such as voters aged 18-24, Latinos, and voters without a college degree.


+Fight for the Future

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