Chatbots

Chatbot Tracker: Register To Vote, Renew Your License & Talk To The President

The whole point of chatbots is to streamline customer experiences. So, what about those taxpaying customers?

The U.S. government, as well as local and state governments, could be starting to dabble in the chatbot world.

If you haven’t registered to vote, here’s your chance: Sign up via chatbot. HelloVote just launched its chatbot, allowing voters to register using SMS text or Facebook Messenger.

Apparently, 33 percent of people who are eligible to vote aren’t registered. This new HelloVote chatbot is focused on reaching millennials and Latinos by meeting the voter where the voter is spending a lot of time — in the digital space.

Voters ready to register head to hello.vote, text 384-387 on their mobile device or go to m.me/hellovote in Facebook Messenger to begin the process, which apparently takes less than a minute. That “under-a-minute” speed is important to 20 percent of voters, according to Pew Research.

HelloVote is working with all 50 states and each registration deadline. The chatbot concept and getting those voters registered are part of the nonpartisan 501(c)(3) project of Fight for the Future and the Fight for the Future Education Fund.

And it’s not the only chatbot-powered voter registration group. VotePlz is also getting into the registration mission, wanting to be the “TurboTax of voter registration.”

Ten percent of people surveyed by VotePlz didn’t even know if they were registered.

According to Cofounder Sam Altman: “Every year, it’s gotten more and more difficult for young people to vote.” Never mind registering to vote.

But what about other government-taxpayer interactions?

Here’s an awkward and frustrating DMV factoid: West Virginia is notorious for being the slowest in the nation. Patrons can wait more than an hour just for a license plate renewal.

Did you know that the average DMV wait time is 34 minutes? Some people, however, wait up to four hours. That’s according to Observer, which took a look at streamlining DVMs and other related government agencies, going so far as to say chatbots should be implemented.

Next time you’re trying to update your driver’s license, you may be wishing you were speaking with a chatbot. Forget the clerks and all the tedious paperwork around vehicle registration. In California, about 26 million drivers spend more than 50 minutes when they visit the DMV, with almost 75 percent opting to go online for services. And those 9,000 clerks and other staff at about 235 locations cost $1 billion annually — a lot of time, money and frustration.

Sure, it takes money to streamline government technology. But some sites may just naturally need it, and that’s where chatbots can come in.

Chatbots field questions by asking them and then retrieving appropriate information and answers. And they’re inexpensive, 24/7 “employees,” if you will.

Analysts are predicting that more government call centers will be including chatbots to help with interacting with taxpayers. Earlier this year, Georgia Chief Technology Officer Steve Nichols told Government Technology that intelligent software could soon help the state provide more services for taxpayers.

But the technology may already have arrived.

Want the President’s ear?

The White House launched a chatbot so you can “chat” with President Barack Obama. The bot launched in August through Facebook Messenger and allows users to send messages to the president.

White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman said that the rollout makes “a first of its kind for any government the world over.”

The chatbot guides users through messaging feedback to the administration, including confirming your contact information.

President Obama will have 10 messages filtered out for him to read daily.

“Our goal is to meet people where they are. It’s why the president launched his own Twitter account and the First Lady is on Snapchat. It’s about creating opportunities for people to engage with their government in new and accessible ways, using the same technologies we already rely on in our daily lives,” wrote Goldman in a blog post.

May be a good time to send your question to the president before he leaves office in January. Who knows if Hillary or The Donald will carry on this chatbot concept.

In the meantime, time to register to vote … via chatbot.

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