By Jessica McKenzie
You make and break dates by text, order fast food, craft spirits and nearly anything else you can think of by text—now you can register to vote by text, too.
As part of a get-out-the-vote campaign, the Fight for the Future Education Fund built a chatbot called HelloVote that can register Americans to vote via SMS or Facebook messenger, both firsts in digital voter registration efforts. The potential audience is huge: conservative estimates put the number of unregistered voters in the U.S. at 52 million, or approximately a quarter of eligible voters.
Holmes Wilson, a co-founder of Fight for the Future, says HelloVote is the fastest and easiest way to register to vote there is. The platform already works with online registration systems in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts and Vermont, with more on the way. In those states, registration is completed after just a few minutes of texting or messaging on the Facebook app. (It also works on Facebook for desktop, but according to Wilson, the mobile experience is better.)
“It takes it to a whole other level of simplicity and we expect that in the places where they offer that [online voter registration], we’re going to get totally off the charts conversion rates,” Wilson told Civicist during a phone call last week.
In states that do not offer online voter registration or are not yet supported by the platform, HelloVote will email a completed registration application for users to print out, sign and mail in, including a stamp with the printable, foldable envelopes. If a user doesn’t have a printer, HelloVote offers to send a completed form by mail, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.