We the People, in order to form a more perfect Union, need to vote! We know that, and we did better this year: 49% of eligible voters hit the polls in 2018. That’s our highest midterm election turnout in 100 years, but it’s still 10% lower than the 2016 presidential election. And frankly, even that 60% is nothing to brag about. It’s not even a passing score in most high schools. Voter registration kiosks were deployed this year with a mission to move those numbers in the right direction.
Voter registration is essential to our democracy. That’s why we’re in the midst of a nationwide movement to get more people registered to vote. The internet is playing a key role. In 2018, 37 states and the District of Columbia offered online voter registration, up from just one (Arizona) a decade ago. But there’s still plenty of work to do. Estimates vary, but somewhere around a quarter of eligible voters still aren’t registered to vote.
Voter registration kiosks can be a powerful tool to get more Americans participating in our electoral process. Interactive computer kiosks placed in public areas bridge the digital divide and give more people a voice in their representation.
Washington Campaign Blazes Voter Kiosk Trail
In Washington’s U.S. House District 5, the Lisa Brown for Congress campaign knew it had a tough race on its hands. Brown was up against a firmly entrenched 7-year incumbent. They needed to energize new blood and register first-time voters. Luckily, a regional director for the campaign, Megan Arsenault, had New Hampshire roots and an Advanced Kiosks connection who recommended a voter registration kiosk rental.
With just a couple weeks’ notice, Advanced Kiosks shipped Lisa Brown for Congress a durable, mobile Freestanding Kiosk with full metal keyboard. “We were super stoked when it came to the office! We all gathered around to unpack it,” remembers campaign Field Director Jeremy Parkin.
Thanks to the Zamok Kiosk Software suite, it was easy to get the voter registration kiosk up and running. Jeremy and his staff locked down the voter kiosk touchscreen to the Lisa Brown for Congress website. From there, users could simply press a button to access Washington’s online voter registration. The user-friendly kiosk was ready to hit the campaign trail! “We just threw it in the back of a pick-up,” Jeremy says.
Rave Reviews from Eastern Washington
The voter registration kiosk fit seamlessly into Jeremy’s existing campaign strategy. As part of their get out the vote effort, Lisa Brown for Congress did a college campus tour: Washington State University, Whitman College, Eastern Washington University, and Spokane Falls Community College. At each stop, the candidate held a town hall meeting followed by a voter registration rally.
College students loved the voting kiosk. Eligible voters could choose whether to register online or through the traditional paper registration process. Jeremy reported that young adults weren’t crazy about filling out all that paperwork and turning it over to someone they just met. They far preferred the self-service technology of the voter kiosk. They were also much more likely to use the touchscreen than the keyboard hardware. Jeremy estimates about 200 people used the interactive kiosk to register to vote.
While it took older generations a little longer to familiarize themselves with the technology, they eagerly embraced the idea of voter kiosks for online voter registration and campaign fundraising. Spokane County Democratic Party Chair Ed Wood demoed the voter registration kiosk for Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, who was so impressed she called Washington Secretary of State Wyman to tell her about it!
Kiosk Life After the Voter Registration Deadline
This election cycle, Washington’s online voter registration deadline was about a month before Election Day. When the voting kiosk’s traveling days were over, it was repurposed as a showpiece for the main campaign office in Spokane. Walk-in traffic could use it to learn about Lisa Brown’s platform, access the online store, or make a campaign donation.
Starting with the 2019 primaries, Washington voters will be able to register online up until just 8 days before an election. As state election offices nationwide work to make their voter registration systems more user-friendly, voting kiosks will be able to play an even larger role in the process.
A Bright Future for Voter Registration Kiosks
While Lisa Brown for Congress was ultimately unsuccessful this time around, Jeremy was pleased with their voter kiosk pilot: “Advanced Kiosks’ people were great! They gave me everything I needed, followed up well, and were excellent communicators.”
As we debriefed after the campaign’s kiosk rental, we imagined the future of voter registration kiosks. They are a secure, durable technology for bringing the voter registration process to vulnerable populations in any state that offers online voter registration. Voter kiosks can be placed in election offices, campaign offices, and public libraries. Our line of completely weatherproof outdoor kiosks expands reach even more to college campuses, parks, even busy street corners. Anywhere you have Wi-Fi, you can register people to vote.
The importance of voter registration cannot be overstated as our country seeks to improve participation in the electoral process. Once people sign up, they are likely to follow through. CNN reports that about 90% of registered voters actually DO vote. Now, that is a passing score!
Whether you are an election official, candidate or campaigner, voter registration kiosks can help you do your job better. Contact Advanced Kiosks to start thinking through how you can incorporate voter registration kiosks into your upcoming election strategy.
Written by Amy Robison, contributing author