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Service allows voters to register to vote via text message

By Business Insider     Sep 22, 2016 in Politics
The nonprofit group Fight For The Future launched HelloVote on Thursday morning with the goal of boosting voter registration in several key battleground states by allowing voters to register directly via text message or Facebook Messenger.
Registering to vote may now be a lot easier for a portion of the roughly 90 percent of Americans who own a cellphone.
Backed by brands like MTV, Genius, and the Latino Victory Project, the tool is the first major service to offer voter registration through text messaging, a process the company hopes will boost voter registration rolls, particularly among young voters.
"We feel very strongly that there are so many barriers to people registering to vote, and we think we can use technology to tear down those barriers and make voter registration easy," CEO Holmes Wilson told Business Insider.
The tool's biggest drawback at launch is its reach; HelloVote is severely limited by state election laws surrounding electronic voter registration.
HelloVote today can register people to vote via SMS or Facebook in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Virginia.
Wilson said the company was close to launching in Vermont and Illinois and "should be able to add Kentucky, West Virginia, and Hawaii soon." Wilson also hopes to add Pennsylvania to the list before the state's October 11 registration deadline.
HelloVote is only partially operational in other states. Each state maintains its own election laws, and many still require that voters mail in paper registration forms. In these instances, HelloVote's text system fills out the registration form via SMS and creates a printer-friendly version for voters to print out and submit.
Many campaigns and groups are experimenting with how best to reach voters and supporters on their mobile devices, which have become the primary source of communication for the majority of Americans.
The campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump frequently blast fundraising reminders out to supporters on their phone lists via text.
Other political groups are attempting to use texts in a more creative way.
NextGen Climate, which has a well-funded super PAC dedicated to electing lawmakers dedicated to halting climate change, launched a "text-banking" voter-turnout program late last year that attempted to motivate potential voters to show up to vote by sending personalized texts from actual organizers encouraging recipients to respond and start a dialogue.
The turnout mechanisms are crucial to Clinton's campaign in particular. The Democratic presidential nominee's support among millennial voters dwarfs Trump's but is far lower than President Barack Obama's support in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
In recent days, Clinton has brought her pitch to young voters in key battleground states, touting her college-affordability plan and her support from popular progressive politicians like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2016.
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